The band themselves tour with up to eight members, acts a sort of musical collective
, with no discernible spokesperson or real 'leader'. They rarely do interviews, never release press photos & shun all attempts at marketing or pop critic interpretation, actually going so far as to write letters to the music press around Montreal
to beg/threaten/cajole the writers to stop mentioning them. They did, however, include train flattened pennies in the first 500 LP's sold.
The name of the band is taken from Mitsuo Yanagimachi
's first film, Buraku Empororu
(1975), a documentary
shot on grainy B&W 16mm film stock
which follows a Tokyo motorcycle gang. The piece has no narration
, no script
& no commentary
(the technical production's so bad & lighting is so dim, that quite often the camera mechanism is all you hear & the movement on screen is impossible to follow).
f# a# ∞#
(interpreted alternatively as "F-sharp A-sharp Infinity", or "Fuck All Eternity", both of which seem to fit the band ethos) was godspeed's first official LP, released on Kranky
records on CD in the summer of '98 - the CD feature three songs, or movements, 1. Dead Flag Blues
--- "the sun has fallen down / and the billboards are all leering / and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles" ---16m28s ; 2. East Hastings
-17m59s-named after a notoriously bleak & drug-addled area of East Vancouver
; 3. Providence
-as in Rhode Island
, where the group recorded the apocalyptic street preacher
featured on the 29m track.1
Seeing Godspeed in concert (with Low
) in September 1999 at Montreal's Olympia Opera House made all this cinematic inspiration eminently clear, as members of the band are also 16mm film enthusiasts. Looped reels of shadowy footage, winter street scenes, scratched negatives were projected from the balcony on to a screen above the band as they literally huddled & hunched in performance. Need an image? Try here
. The last release on the Kranky
label (krank 043) Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
went out Oct. 2000 (while the vinyl
cut of the album, on Constellation Records
had already hit stores about Montreal
a few weeks previous) - it's a profoundly pwetty
, close-to-two-hour blackout. Sample tracks here
Their newest record, out the first week of Nov. 2002 is Yanqui U.X.O.
Open the sleeve and you're immediately presented with a reproduced memo on the letterhead of the security firm US Investigator Service Inc.
. The document is titled Investigator Writing Sample
. First question: "Identify someone you know who is not trustworthy
. Explain how you reached that conclusion." That pretty well sets the tone of the record: a creeped-out, angry and menacing lament. Brief tableauxs of commiseration
slide in and out of the fog, alongside smouldering heaps of frustrated impatience with a world skidding towards disaster. More a ghost story
than the zombie-flick soundscapes of the early records, this is a forlorn, fragmented work. The last track sounds like some disgruntled
cellist faction doing a Joy Division
cover at a political rally they've been forced to play at gunpoint. No lie. Produced by Steve Albini
, they've dumped Kranky
, basically calling them corporate lackeys to a vile recording industry (more about that in the record review). They've done no publicity, no tour is planned, but then again, these are the same chums who've penned a song chorus "all musicians are cowards". They seem to be a deliberate and crafted trajectory not to succeed...
...back to the concert though. From the fifth row, they seemed to be connected to each other psychically, taking invisible cues. They never spoke to the audience or so much as looked at each other in the two-and-half hour set they played, they just looked at their instruments or smoked in the shadow of towering amps and gear (with eight people, there's a lot of stuff on stage). They just played, and played, and played, and when they couldn't play anymore, one by one they switched off their amps, dropped their cello
, or viola
, or bass guitar
, or glockenspiel
and just walked silently off stage. In a word (well, okay, three) incredibly powerful shit
. For pure aural intensity, it doesn't really come any better.
1. all lights fucked on the hairy amp drooling
(December, 1994) : out-of-print cassette - only 33 were ever dubbed.
2. f#a# infinity
(August 1997) : recorded '95-'97, on a rented 16-track analogue machine, supplemented with 4-track recordings and material from the band's archive of field recordings. First full length release.
3. slow riot for new zero kanada e.p.
(March 1999) : recorded at The Gas Station in Toronto, and 'subsequently mastered/botched, re-mastered/botched, and re-mastered again'.
4. lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven
(Oct 2000) : double LP. See above.
5. Yanqui U.X.O.
(November 2002) : double LP.
Thanks to a tip from Chihuahua Grub
, the heavy metal
influence on the band is at least confirmed, as it seems one of the tracks off the Slow riot for new zero canada
EP is named "BBF3" which stands for Blaise Bailey Finnegan III, singer of Iron Maiden
for two albums (...thanks TW
...) whose lyrics from their single "Virus" make up much of the vocal track.