G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! is the brand new long player from post-rock / experimental chamber punk outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Simon Tucker reviews.
Release date: 2nd April 2021
Label: Constellation Records
Format: LP / CD / DL
It just had to happen right? What’s more perfect than a new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album coming out now as we tiptoe out of lockdown and start to survey the damage caused by a global pandemic. Mostly written whilst on tour yet recorded during the masked-up distance needed start of Autumn last year, G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! feels like an album that has a lot to say about where we all find ourselves right now. Fellow post-rockers Mogwai have already shown us what can be achieved when twisting music in to a more positive frame of mind but GY!BE have instead decided to represent sonically the sheer weight of the last 12 months.
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! starts in a bold and intriguing way with A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY) which aside from being excellent a getting a word count up is also as potent an opening song(s) that will hear all year. The whole piece slowly reveals its hand starting with fractured radio voices and field recordings sounding not unlike such esoteric behemoths Throbbing Gristle or Nurse With Wound. It is a stark introduction and colours the album in sheet grey emotion before slowly we are introduced to the band, traveling through large chords and guttural strings. At just over twenty minutes this opener allows the listener to be placed squarely at the emotional centre of the album from the very beginning. It is at once familiar yet new and the band’s control of dynamics is, as always, perfect.
The first of the two shorter pieces (Fire At Static Valley) follows and it is actually hear where the album really takes off. Starting on a desert-guitar twang riff that cycles around before more extreme elements of treated/droning strings add an unsettled and almost uncomfortable edge. A funereal beat slowly pulses through the song adding a sense of marching towards a deadly end. Concise and disconcerting, Fire At Static Valley is a song that balances beauty with trepidation extremely well making it an album highlight.
Now we return to the land of the grand statement with the next suite “GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz) / Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE. Godspeed You! Black Emperor decide to step into the world of John Carpenter as they start the next nineteen minutes with field recordings featuring religious congregations lost in celebratory rapture. It is the sound of a bass guitar that starts to introduce the band piece by piece and again an atmosphere of players spooked by something overhangs the playing and production. An invisible threat seems to make the musicians unsure of when and where to lock in so we get bursts of percussion and warped instrumentation before finally drums lock in on a beat and we slowly hear the song solidify and start to move forward. As we get to around the mid-point the song slowly starts to build up a head of steam and more jazz elements are introduced making it morph into an extreme carnival of sound getting bigger and bigger before we pause on a bed of static and move into phase two. The second half of the song begins in a far more humble manner. We have moved from the city to the edge of the coast as wind replaces grit and the song takes on a more airy and dreamlike quality that is before the whole band come in smashing their way through the piece turning it into a fairly standard rocker which is a shame as it feels like a huge anti-climax compared to what has gone before. Finishing at the halfway mark would definitely have been a more emotionally heavy listen and more have been more in keeping with the rest of the album’s atmosphere.
We then close the second of the shorter pieces OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.) and after the preceding ten minutes it is a welcome relief to heard GY!BE return us to a more sedate and mournful mood yet this time there seems to an almost nervous positivity. It’s like the band can see a better day approaching but don’t want to jinx it. This they achieve by allowing the strings to ebb and flow in a calming and incredibly beautiful way ending the album on a soothing and satisfactory note.
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! is a good rather than great album. It works when it is at its most concise and direct. When the band hone their ideas into pieces of music that last just over five/six minutes they manage to convey far more emotionally than they do on the more expansive suites. Within the longer pieces there are musical moments that really do hit home however overall they seem to carry a lot of unnecessary baggage whereas the two shorter pieces contain all the vital ingredients you need from a 2021 alternative chamber-rock Godspeed You! Black Emperor album. Fans will no doubt love it whilst others dipping into the world of GY!BE for the first time may find themselves losing interest in certain sections.
Constellation Records website