Godspeed You! Black Emperor @Albert Hall, Manchester
Alejandro De Luna
We are living in the age of low attention spans, but a group like Godspeed You! Black Emperor requires and deserves your attention…
The members of the experimental collective enter one by one to the stage of this former Methodist chapel and gothic-style building in Manchester, the Albert Hall. The setting is more than ideal for an evening of cinematic and dystopian soundscapes with the Canadian post-rock heroes that present their latest album Luciferian Towers.
The group gathers in a circle and they slowly commence building this dense atmosphere that is constructed from the minimal to the layered drone. It is impressive to hear how the instrumentation in a group like Godspeed You! Black Emperor escalates—there’s just so many events happening at once: strings, reverbs, marching drums, layers of noise, pedal effects, reminiscences to classical, post-rock, ambient music, noise rock, and impenetrable textures that create an emotional soundscape evoking pure dystopian imagery.
The black and white projected film sequences and loops reinforce the social and political message of the collective and enhance the whole audiovisual experience. The imagery of high rising buildings, abandoned rail tracks and planes falling from the sky help to build the apocalyptic narrative. You can feel the pain, the anger and the drama coming out of the speakers, but there’s also beauty and hidden optimism.
The lack of vocals is not a weakness, but an advantage that plays well for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With music as evocative and moving as this one, the listener is free to interpret the message. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is just the mechanism that triggers your imagination and is up to you how deep you want to go.
It’s been just 20 minutes since the show started and I’m mesmerized by this audiovisual experience of epic soundscapes. There’s a repetitive riff in ‘Anthem For No State’ that has a this Spaghetti Western feel to it; it sounds like Ennio Morricone going way too dark, while ‘BBF3’ is simply a majestic piece of evocative beauty that leads to the end of the show.
The gig ends like it started. The collective leave the stage one by one until the stage is only occupied by a sea of cables, effect pedals. How could you not like this?