There are moments of convergence, where several thousand rays shoout out from verticies into the air, in
multiple directions, and somehow, despite the laws of mathematics, manage to meet again somewhere else,
without forming circles or cylinders, or any of that jazz. Instead, something more meaningful and
threatening, something real. For which what where tangibility? For which what where passion?
Flags shred, dead on their palms, crawling towards meaning, dipped in gasoline, and my fingers are
itchy, holding wooden matches that sing.
Yanqui U.X.O. has arrived, and it's something new. It's going to take awhile to totally sink in--for its
many layers to make themselves evident. There are less signposts than before, not as directed as f#a#
(infinity). The destruction and angst of slow riot for a new zero kanada are expressed as
impressionistic, dripping blood paint, and the narration provided by the heart-felt ramblings of the
insane and impassioned of lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven! are all but shadow puppets.
This is all appropriate, considering we here in the North American continent are living in a time of
shadow governments, threatened terrorist activities, engaged in terrorism, and in general as
Blaise Bailey Finnegan III observed in BBF III, ((are things going to get better before
they get worse?)) --> "No, things are going to just keep on getting worse." And they did.
Since the release of lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven! we've had the impact and
disruption of the entire unsolved 9/11 business. Two towers falling as if imitating the narratives
that godspeed you black emperor! have provided to us prior. The hands are continually being cut off
every American citizen. And somehow, from their treehouse hideaway, Efrim and company find their way
into interpretation and expression of this pathetic condition. Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly
Upward by the auxiliary band The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band came out hot on
the heels of the incident, on October 23, 2001 23! And during that
time it offered me the framework from which I thought about everything that was happening, it provided a
soundtrack to not only my own angst, but what I perceived as the disease that had infected the entire
continent in some way or another.
There are no spoken words on this album. If we want to attempt to interpret, in a
concrete way that does not rely solely on my own emotional receptiveness to the music then we'll have to
dig around for some other indicators of meaning. The band offers the following on their website,
accompanied by a diagram (hand-drawn by Efrim).
AOL Time Warner is one of the four remaining major label companies and
owns Atlantic, Elektra/Sire, Asylum, Reprise, Warner, American, Maverick, EMI, and
others. It also owns AOL, which is involved in a co-venture with Hughes Electronics Corp called
Hughes is owned 100% by General Motors. Hughes merged with Raytheon to form Hughes subsidiary
Raytheon Industries. Raytheon Industries makes bombs.
Sony Corporaton is another of the major label companies. Sony is involved in a co-venture with the
US Army and University of Southern California to develop advanced training simulations for use by
the Army. Sony's face in this venture is known as Future Combat Sytems.
BMG owns Arista, RCA, BMG and other record labels. The Power Corporation of Canada is a
significant shareholder in BMG, and in turn has holdings in Pargesa Group and Groupe Bruxelles
Lambert. These holding companies own a stake in Totalfina, which owns an interest in the venture
between Hutchinson Worldwide and Barry Controls. This venture produces sundry parts used in
fighter aircraft and other miltary vehicles.
Vivendi Universal is the fourth and final major label company, counting MCA, Polygram, Motown,
Geffen-DGC, Interscope, and Universal among its holdings. It has an arm called Vivendi
Environment, which owns a stake in Fomento De Construcciones Y Contratas, which in turn has a stake
in Espelsa. Espelsa works on mission planning systems for the P-3 Orion aircraft (Lockheed
Martin), as well as systems for the Typhoon Fighter (or Eurofighter), made by British Aerospace.
Espelsa also works with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, which produces military
aircrafts and bombs, as well as with Alenia who, together with Boeing, makes bombs.
They also offer the following:
u.x.o. is unexploded ordnance is landmines is cluster bombs. yanqui is
post-colonial imperialism is international police state is multinational corporate
oligarchy. godspeed you! black emperor is complicit is guilty is resisting. the new album is
recorded by steve albini at electrical audio in chicago. mixed by howard bilerman and godspeed
you! black emperor at the hotel2tango in montreal. available on single compact disc and double
stubborn tiny lights vs. clustering darkness forever ok?
The album begins with 09-15-00, which sets the theme for the entire record, it
is simple and repeating, but introduces a variety of new elements to the Godspeed sound. The guitar
plays a more prominent role here, but not in a thrashing-death metal-way. Instead it's volume is up
above the strings, always leading things along. Guitar effects make one of their few
more-than-understated appearances here. Upswellings from the collective unconscious, pain needling its
way into you, digging a hole. This song was originally called 12-28-99, the day Efrim's dog died--
for whom the entire Silver Mt. Zion album (He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace
the Corners of Our Rooms) was dedicated toward. It continues to hold that sad edge, slow, but when the drums catch on you
feel the energy of rebirth flowing through you.
There is no spoken word or field recordings readily apparent on this release, as
I've said. The music takes the forefront, and to great effect. I found that the repeat-value of a
release like f#a#(infinity) was diminished by the menacing rants of lunatics, and while
effective--they restricted my full enjoyment of the albums as casual listening (not that any
gy!be release is applicable as casual.) There are many fans who would be tremendously upset that I even
include political discourse within a review/evaluation of their work, the band itself may even have
qualms about it-- due to the undeniable nature of artistic variability, assuming a political statement
to arise is in folly. Still, one gets a general impression, a schema of the bands political views, if
not their humanitarian stand point. I caution against taking too much of their work at face value,
often they are exposing the plurality of experience, not passing judgment so much as offering evidence.
On slow riot for a new zero kanada, Blaise Bailey Finnegan III's complicated (yet almost
simple-minded) deconstruction of the North American system resonates with the aware listener, comparable
to the effect of the ranting driver in Richard Linklater's Waking Life-- and yet, his arguments are
in many ways falsified by his blatant plagarism of Iron Maiden, his lying. This power balance of
resonance and absurdity provides a mixed message to the listener, one that hopefully the listener
Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls begins with a guitar scale that moves, it sounds
like music for a traveling fool, moving slow and sadly. Strings swell underneath, all seeming
to be mumbling some story of sadness, sultry weather, and a land blissfully unaware of its impending
demise. The chords descend, and the screwdriver-stroked guitars lets it get itself dirty. The drums come
smacking in and a reverb envelopes the guitar in away to the smooth life out like so much paint. Think
Monheim. This song has an intense structure, one that will not bore, or let slumber. The melodies are
powerful, the images are intense, and when the bombs fall--they fall hard. Expect this song to knock you
Motherfucker=Redeemer closes the album with thirty one minutes of powerful narrative
technique. The drumming is at its very best, and the path is intense. One could almost dance to the all
over rhythms of this one, and it provides archetypal images of beshadowed prophets, stroking violins up
and over the tyranny of abuse, and stamping puddles with their beat-keeping footprints. In concert this
wonderful piece was followed up with a cut-up of George W. Bush's state of the union address,
interspersed with mad clapping--having an effect not unlike the most intense moments of Darren
Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. There is addiction in this music. There is destruction. There is
some hope in happiness, some hope in scraping your own way in the dirt, and walking the labyrinths you
create for yourself with confidence that the other side is accessible. That this world can be navigated,
if the correct tools are applied. To retrieve your shovels from the shed, to dig your burrows by your own hand, recruiting the community in your aid. The community? Is this the
redeemer? For what is redemption? How do we seek it out.
I know I'm going to be tangled inside of the issues that this album brings up for me.
Lost within its pathways, but loving the maze. Through my musical narrative interpreting
capacity, I see the strife that is etched etched etched. But it's not really there. Nothing is. But to
deny that it exists, is to deny the power of the art. And that cannot be denied. But it could.
You see, this is the real motherfucker of the world. This game of indecision, of throwing your hands
up in agitation, in apathy because you can't figure out what the motherfucker is. You know it's out
there, playing us all. How do we find the redeemer?
Help me find the redeemer, please...
Yanqui U.X.O. is released in the United Kingdom on November 4, 2002 and in North
America on November 11, 2002. It is published by Constellation Records. It was recorded by Steve