This column usually showcases the FIVE best songs, albums, artworks or whatever else that may concern a given artist. Today I did want to make a list of the five best Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s albums. Eventually I realised that GYBE’s official releases are only six -overlooking the debut demo tape and the double version of F#A#∞ . Ergo, it wouldn’t have made any sense to leave just one album out, right!?
That is why today, and only for today, my list will include six items. All the six GYBE’s records, to be precise.
Are you ready to find out the most beautiful, hypnotic album by the Canadian collective?
6 -Allelujah! Don’t bend! Ascend! (2012)
GYBE’s first album after their reunion. It has been an exciting event, though the resulting record has not been so. The vinyl version is presented with two long tracks, recorded over both sides of a 12” disc and other two, shorter and droning ones featured on a small 7” sized vinyl.
The “big” disc is quite cool. Unfortunately the small one isn’t so good. In fact, the two drone tracks –Their Helicopters’ Sing and Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable– are pretty pointless.
5 – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (2015)
This is partially flawed by the same issues as the previous one -the two mid tracks are ambient/drone yet quite boring. On the other Asunder… managed to become just bigger, mature and a little closer to their pre-split-up albums.
Considering only the first and the last tune -respectively Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’ and Piss Crowns Are Trebled– this record is so brilliant!
4 – Yanqui U.X.O. (2002)
And we’re getting closer to the red zone here. Yanqui… is the last album the Canadian collective recorded before splitting up. It feels definitely different from what the band has been doing so far -less cinematic while shortening out the songs a bit*, and taking it to an (almost) canonical post rock composition.
However there is really nothing bad to say about this very album. Actually we can only enjoy it.
*The double Vinyl edition contains just one long track per side. On the CD edition 09-15-00 has been split up in two parts, while Motherfuckers=Redeemer part 2 is 6 minutes shorter.
3 – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
I might say this for almost every GYBE’s record, but really, this one is special!
“LYSFLAtH” -also Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven in French- captures perfectly the cinematic essence of their -chronologically- previous one (F#A#Infinity) and emphasizing it so to make a long, one hour and a half, epic “movie-for-the-ears”.
The reason this is not all the way up in the list is that the first two songs -the whole first vinyl- are way less engaging than the other two. Which are just terrific. Sleep especially is one of the best tunes they have ever crafted.
2 – F#A#∞ (1997-98)
The enigmatic one.
The compositions are long, complex, mesmerising and more often than not you’ll end disoriented trying to following them up. But, if you have purchased also the Vinyl edition -which btw is intended to be the “original” one, since it came out one year before the CD print. It also includes a slightly different tracklist- you’re gonna be surprised. In fact the bloody red paperback sleeve contains: four inserts with various hand drawings and designs, all enclosed in a yellow paper envelope along with a crushed penny! The vinyl disc is utterly black. It has the peculiarity that it has a locked groove on the disc surface which creates an endless loop at the end. Hence the record basically spin endlessly. Here’s why “∞”. While F-sharp and A-sharp are referred to the keys in which each side of the album starts.
But well, besides all the fancy stuff this album is brilliant. Probably the most appreciated of the entire Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s discography.
1 – Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada (1999)
I know, I’m going against the tide here but I can’t help it. I think this one, in the simplicity of an EP, has everything it may ever need to introduce GYBE in the best, possible way. In its shortness it won’t ever bore you. Still, it is elaborate enough to let you enjoy all the sweet, dreamy visions of the band.
The vinyl -yes, if you haven’t got it yet you better listen to them in this old-fashioned format- plays at two different speeds. Moya (side “a”) plays at 45rpm, and the song title is clearly referred to band member Mike Moya. BBF3 plays at 33rpm instead and it’s based on the weird, eccentric speech of “Blaise Bailey Finnegan III”.
If you’re still unfamiliar with Godspeed You! Black Emperor this one is the one you should start with. Enjoy!