Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada EP

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada EP

Ummm…beats the heck out of me. This CD EP was given to me by a co-worker, and I think I listened to it repeatedly all day, over and over again, letting these two songs (measuring in at 10+ and 17+ minutes respectively) swirl and gather in my head until I thought that, if not I, someone was going crazy. This is very unusual stuff. Perhaps not entirely unusual musically, although it’s not music that I listen to on a regular basis. The band apparently has about 20 people, and they make some interesting, beautiful, powerful, odd, symphonic, and darn neat music.
The first track, “Moya,” is slow and haunting, with the eerie sounds of a low cello and bass over various high-pitched sounds, possibly an organ or synthesizer. This song is similar to the Black Heart Procession in its moody power and slow intensity. “Blaise Bailey Finnegan III,” the second track, starts off with about 5 minutes of the aforementioned man ranting in the deep background to a soft drone and occasional building music in the foreground. It sounds as if he’s ranting about the government. At least, that’s what I choose to believe. By the time he finishes, the music builds to a crescendo, Quiets, and then goes on. It’s an almost eerie song, heavy on the pounding piano and cymbals, more of a symphony that anything resembling a rock song. But when it builds, about 12 minutes into the song, with spirling piano and guitar and driving drums, it knocks your socks off (no, not literally) with its power and beauty. I think maybe that’s why I love this so much, because it’s so different.
Godspeed is similar to the non-rock orchestrated music of The Black Heart Procession, but without the country-feel and folky lyrics. There’s no lyrics to Godspeed’s EP. In fact, there’s very little to this EP, despite its 28 minutes in length. It doesn’t even have the name of the band on the packaging or disc. There is some bible verses, some Arabic script, and a little message from the band. “Let’s build quiet armies, Friends, let’s march on their glass towers … let’s build fallen cathedrals and make impratical plans…” It’s mysterious, moody, slow, and, in its own way, beautifully powerful.