[B]Wanda[/B] is dead, but in the midst of these pulsating non-poptones [B]A Silver Mt Zion[/B] dare to grasp at the very meaning of life...
If you’re a member of the world’s most celebrated avant-rock enigmas and your dog Wanda is dying of cancer, making an album in its honour is the obvious thing to do. Equally obviously, you will ask a couple of your bandmates to help. You choose a title that’s wordy and full of gravitas, the music likewise imbued with sadness but not without hope. It’s arranged into two long pieces – ‘Lonely As The Sound Of Lying On The Ground Of An Airplane Going Down’, ‘The World Is sickSICK; (So Kiss Me Quick)’ – each subdivided into four movements, with similarly portentous names. The resulting record will be as essential as any produced by the parent group.
All of this makes perfect sense given that A Silver Mt Zion comprises Efrim, Thierry and Sophie from Godspeed You Black Emperor!. Though distinct in several significant aspects from the larger collective’s output, ‘He Has Left Us Alone…’ suggests they did not get together to satiate a hitherto frustrated ska element to their music. Over Efrim‘s desolate piano motifs, strings and various extraneous sounds gradually circle one another, intertwining to form a sparse web of oscillating wonder that’s less visceral than the full GYBE! experience but whose emotional impact is just as keenly felt. The absence of percussion, save for on one track, drags the listener’s focus onto subtle flows and eddies in the orchestral drift.
It pretty much goes without saying this is disquietingly beautiful stuff, not least the looped sighs and drones of ’13 Angels Standing Guard ‘Round The Side Of Your Bed’. More surprising for Godspeed aficionados is Efrim‘s lyrical presence on ‘Movie (Never Made)’, where he enunciates his group’s mystical anarcho-syndicalism in the voice of an exhausted Neil Young: “Let’s televise and broadcast the raping of kings/Let our crowds be fed on tear gas and plate glass ‘cos the people united is a wonderful thing…”.
Wanda is dead, but in the midst of these pulsating non-poptones A Silver Mt Zion dare to grasp at the very meaning of life.