Godspeed You! Black Emperor
The gruff male voice speaks, "I said, 'Kiss me you're beautiful / These are truly the last days,'" into echoes of guitar notes and swelling acoustic drones. These are the sounds of a culture in decline -- not the fictional apocalypse that comes with one explosive blow, but the slow decay of humanity we witness every day. And Godspeed react with a deeply sorrowful sound. Their long instrumental tracks ebb and flow, expand and contract with guitars, bowed strings, hypnotic percussion and other classical, rock and jazz instruments. They exist as a large group of musicians (about nine) who tend toward anonymity, collective creation and improvisation. Their records' liner notes give little information about them and they keep their public presence to an unassuming minimum; their music is a well of meaning. Ever-present throughout their recordings are poetic monologues and tapes of man-on-the-street cynical rants about politics and cultural oppression. In lieu of vocals, these passionate speeches and interviews are not didactic, but they create a texture of struggle -- a match for their tense, wandering orchestrations.