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Fuck Off Get Free We pour Light on Everything
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180gLP audiophile pressing includes art poster + dl. CD in gatefold paperboard jacket. Marks the 15th anniversary of the band, founded and led by Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. First new SMZ full length since GYBE's return to action in 2011. Recorded in Quebec by Greg Norman (Electrical Audio). Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (SMZ) has traced a barbed-wire arc of genre-defying protest music since its inception in 1999. Formed by Efrim Menuck, with Thierry Amar and Sophie Trudeau, the initial iteration of the band was a predominantly instrumental trio that forged a more intimate and ragged chamber-punk than Godspeed You! Black Emperor, in which group all three founding SMZ members also played (and continue to play). Through seven albums from 2000-2010, SMZ expanded its line-up and shifted towards an increasing use of lead and group vocals, with Menuck penning politically-charged lyrics to anchor long-form multi-movement compositions that juxtaposed electrified guitars against a 4-piece string section of violins, cello and contrabass. Most recently, SMZ has pared back to five players, with Menuck's massive spectrum spanning electric guitar sound emerging as the spine around which two violins, bass (now more often electric than acoustic) and drums are deployed. SMZ have managed a handful of short tours in the past couple of years (in the gaps between GYBE commitments) and as anyone who has seen the band in its recent incarnation can attest, their current sound is more honed, laser-guided and bone-rattling than ever, melding hardcore, blues, garage and dark metal influences that have nothing to do with anything so quaint as post-rock (a tag the group has always and rightly rejected). Fook Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is the first definitive document of the band's newfound sound and style as a quintet. It's also their first single LP-length work since the band's debut record as a trio almost 15 years ago, and features roadtested pummeling rock-outs Fook Off Get Free (For The Island Of Montréal) , Take Away These Early Grave Blues and What We Loved Was Not Enough alongside the previously unheard lullabyes/minuets Little Ones Run and Rains Thru The Roof At Thee Grande Ballroom (For Capital Steeze) and the album centerpiece Austerity Blues with its closing lyric Lord let my son live long enough to see that mountain torn down sung in varying incarnations throughout the second half of this 14-minute epic. This lyric in many ways encapsulates Menuck's unflinching take on a world replete with shabbiness, greed and injustice, seen through the lens of parenthood, mortality, endurance and defiance. There are few other musicians who deliver social critique with the courage and honesty of lines like All our cities gonna burn / All our bridges gonna snap / All our pennies gonna rot / Lightning roll across our tracks / All our children gonna die . Feel-good music this is not; but neither can it reductively be tagged apocalyptic or world-weary. Fock Off Get Free rages with scorn and with hope, utterly passionate but pointedly unromantic. Thee Silver Mt. Zion once again demonstrates, like few other bands working today, that there is much to fight for and against, and plenty more fight songs to sing.
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This album could not have opened more perfectly. Whether scripted or not, such a simple declaration coming from a child will put anybody in a mood ready to accept the coming music. And the music delivers.
What is found in the first half of feels like an extension of Godspeed's bombastic portions of ''Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!.' We have Menuck's now signature whirring, buzzing, squealing guitar peels careening through nearly the whole of the first track and into large portions of the second and third. I honestly don't know how they make the sounds that they do, but I cannot get enough of it. Mt. Zion have become masters of combining stringed instruments of all sorts to create a raw, yet flowing, sound that brings everyone back down to a pure level of honesty.
I found it interesting that, while the first half of the album was playing, I was digging the screaming wallops when I realized that I hoped this would not continue for the full duration of the record. And then the music melted into itself for a serene break from a punishing dash run, and we get a needed release from the brilliant tension build up previously.
Bottom line: this record is a perfect sibling of 'Kollaps Tradixionales.' So much so, in fact, that it could even be considered the second part of a larger whole. This record is on the same level of enjoyment for me as that record is. Even though I still love going back to the days of that wire-sitting black bird of 'Born Into Trouble,' I can't help be be drawn toward the raw make up of this album's nature. 4.5 stars for a brilliant record.
What you will most likely experience are similarities to Kollaps Tradixionales, as the ASMZ signature sound has recently seemed to rely on the clustermush of wailing classical instruments laced with whiny vocals and female harmonizing accompaniment. Take for example "God Bless Our Dead Marines" .. beautifully arranged and the buildup to the harmonizing choir at the end, definitely one of their best tracks. Take their work of recent, that seems to want to emulate that to a degree, but falls short. For me, it's a bit of a gimmick that shows less talent than some of the more beautifully constructed tracks of the early days that came predominantly without lyrics of any kind.
Even when ASMZ started to turn in a new direction with Horses in the Sky, I was still on board. I liked this new direction. But they pushed it more and more and what results seems to be a disorganized pile of detuned instrumentation with the intent of being profound and deep? I won't philosophize on it, but if thay are simply continuing off their sound that started with 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons. That's definitely the turning point for me.
I want to give this four stars. I do think it's an improvement as of late and probably the best thing they've done since "Horses in the Sky" .. maybe the resurrection of Godspeed had something to do with it; still nothing like, what were for me, the glory days of ASMZ. If you prefer "Shafts of Light" and "Born into Trouble" then this record will not be the best choice for you. If you were a fan of "13 Blues" and "Kollaps" then you will certainly enjoy this record, as it picks up right where those leave off.
Don't get me wrong, I still love albums like Horses in the Sky, but "...Get Free..." is outstanding. The tracks are heavy, epic and often depressing in the best of ways.
The track "What We Loved Was Not Enough" is beautiful and heart breaking. "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" highlights the dissonant vocals of Efrim Menuck that have made Silver Mt. Zion's music what it is today.
This album is stunning and as close to perfect as they have come in a long time.