Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one of those bands that gets classified as post-rock because there isn’t any nice round peg holes to put them in. Experimental in the truest sense of the word; they mix trance, blues, industrial, a jazz and host of other styles to get the right texture for that album, that track. Their originality and willingness to try something new has given them cult appeal among a dedicated fan base and after the acclaim of their 2015 album Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress; many eyes are on them for their sixth studio album Luciferian Towers.
Opening with the slow building oppressive track ‘Undoing a Luciferian Tower’, it builds a thick machine rhythm of distorted guitar and violin, but with a hopeful undertone of brass pipes; setting the tone for the rest of the album. Creating a musical juxtaposition to bring you into their soundscape of a broken world, it takes off on a ride across shattered rubble, alienated workers and the dispossess all to the tune of a slow building guitar and drum tempo in the three part ‘Bosses Hang’, before ending with the empty and slowly repopulating imagery of the three part ‘Anthem for no state’.
To put it simply, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have used music to create an image trip, the type that Timothy Leary could only beg to have. Like their previous work, Luciferian Towers is a concept album, a scream against the corporate destruction of the land and people. It’s meant to make you feel uncomfortable, happy, twitching, angry, and calm all at the same time. The albums press release reads like a political manifesto as it calls to end foreign wars, the prison industrial complex and to make sure that the “expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”. It’s not going to make you jump up, grab the nearest bin and throw it through a bank window while hunting down the filth but it will make you feel like there is something wrong with the world.
The nearest album, that I can think of, that comes close to it is The Smashing Pumpkins 2000 outing Machina/The Machines of God. Not in terms of concept or anything; Luciferian Towers is pure instrumental with an anarchist and post-apocalyptic vibe but its arrangement is on the same level. Going back the already mentioned juxtaposition, it uses the twisted harmonies with steady building rhythms to gets an emotional response. Basically it’s like if Werner Herzog cut an album with Popol Vuh in a disused military bunker.
As per all of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, it’s something new. Something different. Some of you will love it. Some of you might hate it. But you will all find it interesting.
Luciferian Towers is out now via Constellation Records.