Things are not OK
…because the internet needs yet another site streaming the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album (even though you can go out and buy it now) and a quotation from the Guardian interview transcript.
But now we all live in harder times, now a whole lot of bands react to the current heaviness by privileging the party times, like some weird Scientology will-to-power bullshit, hit that hi-hat with a square’s fist until we all make it to heaven, until Sunday morning’s bringdown. Self-conscious good vibes like love-handles poking through some 22-year-old’s American Apparel T-shirt at some joint where you can only dance once you pay a $10 cover charge just to listen to some internet king’s iPod.
And so now we thrum our joyous tension in opposition to all of that. Things are not OK. Music should be about things are not OK, or else shouldn’t exist at all. The best songs ever are the songs that ride that line. We just try to get close to that perfection. We drive all night just to get closer to that perfect joyous noise, just to kiss the hem of that garment. We love music, we love people, we love the noise we make.
I’ve probably seen Godspeed You! Black Emperor more times than I’ve seen any other band. As much as I’m tempted to inflict some sort of personal narrative upon you, about how I learned so much about music, imagery, politics etc etc &tc, I won’t. Plus the band pretty much defy meaningful description anyway. Musically, it is probably better to just listen and to make your own mind up, rather than me trying to describe the sound in a way that won’t lead me to Pseud’s Corner. It’s pretty hard to describe the band in any other terms either, as they have always been pretty private, mysterious even. Deliberately so.
And perhaps that is why Godspeed You! Black Emperor still appeal this far down the line and still feel vital and important. They don’t give everything away – they aren’t obvious and ‘out there’ in an age when everyone presents themselves to the world, holds nothing back.
They demand some degree of attention in order to get the most out of them, musically and otherwise. They don’t play the games and jump through the hoops that other bands do. The statements they do make may touch on the pretentious at times, but at least they are not vapid. And without whoring themselves out and plastering themselves and their music everywhere they still have one of the most distinctive aesthetics of any current band on a musical, visual and political level. They are a band to care about when you’ve stopped really caring about bands.
Things are not OK. It is a shame it takes a pretty obscure instrumental band to be the ones to say it. Where are the great political bands, in a time when we need art to fight our corner? When did music become more sedative and pacifier than call-to-arms? Or are ideas that bands can change the world, or at least work to a greater good than purely entertaining the masses, pretty naive and adolescent?
Anyway, enough of my nonsense. Probably best to just let the music play.
Never really got into GYBE; where should I start?
The debut (F♯ A♯ ∞) is as good a start as any. They arrived pretty much fully formed and have never made any real huge leaps in style. The new album is excellent, as is Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. They certainly have a way with titles.
Maybe also worth trying some of their live stuff: http://archive.org/details/GodspeedYouBlackEmperor
Ta! Will investigate