Godspeed You Black Emperor!

More of a political movement than a band, Godspeed You Black Emperor! is Montreal's collection of commune-dwelling, hard-core-loving psychedelic anarchists. And God bless them for it. Somebody has to be the voice of the opposition -- even if they don't actually speak. A near-orchestra (multiple drums, guitars and basses, plus keyboards, strings and horns), Godspeed uses 10-plus minutes to construct each of its sonic volcanoes. The journeys -- from the base's lo-fi melodic serenity to the summit, where the hammer of the gods strikes -- have been known to leave folks breathless.

Like Godspeed's four prior releases, the Steve Albini-produced Yanqui U.X.O. is a sprawl. Five loosely named tracks span 75 minutes, each detonating as loudly and awkwardly as the cluster bombs at the end of the album's title (U.X.O. stands for unexploded ordnance). The best of these is the two-part closer "Motherfucker = Redeemer," which begins with Godspeed on white funk -- a ghostly, almost disco hi-hat gallop wrapped by slight guitar lines. The storm heads way out into ambient seas before coming back on a wave of feedback, centered on the same slight guitar lines that unleashed it. It's a basic formula, but Godspeed carries it off as naturally as a tree grows.


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