Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress”

GodspeedYouBlackEmperor_2015_AsunderSweetandOtherDistressGodspeed You! Black Emperor
Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
CONSTELLATION
8/10 

There are only four tracks on Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, but this fifth full-length by Godspeed You! Black Emperor—Montreal’s premier experimental post-rock band—nevertheless clocks in at over forty minutes. That’s still a relatively short time for the Canadians (this is their first single LP since their 1997 debut, F♯ A♯ (Infinity)), but this album is no less ambitious than the rest of the group’s discography. Dramatic opener “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’” builds toward its squalling crescendo stomp by stomp, until the pace and portent is reduced in favor of something more triumphant. True to GY!BE form, the underlying thread from that first track never completely ends; instead, the heart-rattling distortion and intricate and strangely uplifting sonic layers transition into “Lambs’ Breath”—a fragmented collage of atmospheric sound. On the flipside, “Asunder, Sweet” and “Piss Crowns Are Trebled” work in near-perfect conversation with each other—both playing around with the room that expanding noise and focused guitar riffs and details take up within the album—the former’s distressing drone giving way to the heavy instrumental lament of the latter, which ends the record with a burst of dark, dangerous authority. Remember, it’s quality, not quantity.

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