Skip to main content

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Review

The Nightmare Before Christmas, Butlin’s, Minehead
5 stars
If the Quebecois collective who make up the realigned Godspeed You!
Black Emperor make it to Glasgow for their Barrowland show tonight,
they will have navigated their way through a snow-bound landscape that
teetered dangerously close to the sort of disaster movie stuff the
group’s apocalyptically inclined soundscapes might well soundtrack. As
curators and headliners of the All Tomorrow’s Parties branded three-day
winter festival after almost a decade out of view, GY!BE’s return to
the fray now sounds like prophecy for a world even more messed up than
when they played their second ever UK show to twenty-odd observers in
Edinburgh’s Stills gallery in 1998.

Inbetween three different two-hour sets, Godspeed allow vent to an
eclectic array of more than forty fellow travelers across four stages,
from doom metal legends Neurosis to Serbian brass band the Boban I
Marko Markovic Orchestra and Daniel Menche’s singular turn amplifying
his own neck pulse. Philip Jeck’s experiments with old record players
reconfigures the crackles of the past, while tireless drummer Chris
Corsano almost steals the show three times, first in duo with Mick
Flower’s sitar-like Japan banjo, later in power trio Rangda with
guitarists Ben Chasny and Richard Bishop, adding ballast and taste to
Oneida’s twelve-hour Ocropolis project inbetween.

Even louder is the electronic dub of Kosmische duo Cluster, while a
stream of lesser known Canadian acts including the electro-acid jams of
Growing and two duos, the viola and drum-based Hanged Up and the drum
and guitar-led Yomul Yuk, show off Montreal’s underground in all its
glory.

Opening their own shows, GY!BE sit hunched clattering out an extended
drone in front of flickering Super 8 footage of the last ten years of
war, occasionally punctuated with the word ‘Hope’ in shaky chalk-white
letters. There may be three guitarists, two bassists and two drummers
up there, but what follows is no freeform wigout, but a textured,
concentrated and meticulously arranged affair where Sophie Trudeau’s
mournful violin lends a baroque urgency to an already ferociously
intense experience that surges from meditation to purging and back
again. While musically this marries Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western
twang to the spiritual heartbreak of Arvo Part, in oppositionist spirit
the band Godspeed most resemble is Crass, the English anarchist group
who explored similar alternative strategies. Combined, all this finds
Godspeed making some of the most vital, terrifying and emotive music of
the moment that should make tonight’s Glasgow show equally remarkable.

The Herald, December 8th 2010

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …