Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Me: Godspeed just came out with a new album.
Freind: I hope its a sprawling epic
Friend: What is it called?
Me: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Friend: You either made that up to sound like a Godspeed record or your are telling the truth.

I discussed my sordid past with post rock. To be brief, post rock took over my life along with a few friends in tandem. We worshiped post rock for a few years and became enamored with the idea of enveloping records which laid out like landscapes. We became aware of music’s possibility to amaze and astound and emotionally cripple its listener. This moment only lasted a few years until we realized there were other things which did the same thing. I feel that post rock would have had a more resounding effect if the music did not all sound the same. By the end of college, I was tired of sweeping music which moved at a glacial pace. I was tired of swelling crescendos. If I had to look at one more blurry photograph album cover or read one more paragraph for a song title I was going to lose my shit.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is at the middle point between post rock’s short but complicated history. At one end you have the style’s artsy and angular beginnings where vocals were used as instruments and texture was emphasized over structure. No one listened to these bands during their original run and if someone tells you they did, they are liars. At the other end is the more recent and very grand instrumental variety where formula and emotion coalesce into long wordless narratives. Everyone has listened to these bands. Godspeed, along with Sigur Ros and Mogwai are in the center acting not only as a closing statement for the beginning style but as inspiration for a new generation. They are at the mid point not only in time but on a spectrum of style. Halfway between art and emotion is Godspeed You! Black Emperor who released critically acclaimed records at the turn of the century. Now, a decade later the band silently releases their fourth album, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

When one steps back, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is only two songs segmented by shorter tracks of newly embraced drone. Time is really relative at this point so do not worry. Both songs present the band attempting to work in new directions as well as finishing older material which was never resolved. Both “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire” are reworkings of previous live material but now take center stage as the albums pillar marathon tracks. At a combined length of 40 minutes, “Mladic” and “We Drift Like Worried Fire” more than make one’s journey worth the time. It is time to take to the carpet.

“Mladic” is the album’s most traditional song in the sense it is complicated and tense. While using Persian scales with subtle nods to bellydance music, the band builds the track over twenty minutes without any expected break. “Mladic” directly contrast the album’s more accessible track “We Drift Like Worried Fire.” It is hard to evaluate this track as it was created before its own elements became cliche and predictable. The swelling orchestra, the long cinematic passages and crescendo structure was unique in the early 2000’s and even 10 years later, for some reason, still works. I love it. I blame the band.

If I ever sound like I am presenting this band with reverent pause, I apologize, it is just a part of the show. Godpseed has the ability to present its music with an air of cosmic importance. This is how they can get away with minimal album art and intersect their music with droning noise. They have, for nearly 20 years, strung a line of devoted followers like a pied piper skipping away from an art school. Just the fact the band started selling their new record Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! at their shows without any announcement has caused a wave of heart attacks among painting majors everywhere. We can’t take this type of stress.

I feel like hearing a Godspeed record upon its actual release is like seeing a comet streak across the sky. I know this will not happen again for quite sometime so I am pleased to enjoy it now. Even the experimental drone tracks like “Their Helicopters’ Sing” and “Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable” are decent and provide one of the only times in my life where I enjoyed reverberating noise. It’s not bad. In fact, it is good. I have relapsed on my post rock sobriety. I am laying on the floor of college once again talking about the majesty and wonder of Explosions in the Sky or God is an Astronaut. Do not attempt to save me. I am happier here.

Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Tracklist:

Their Helicopters’ Sing
We Drift Like Worried Fire
Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable

Editor’s Note: Constellation Records has brought it to our attention that readers can find a high quality stream of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! on the Guardian UK’s website here. We thank Constellation for the heads up and urge you to preview the album (in its entirety) in the highest fidelity possible.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2012-10-09T09:20:04-07:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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