We're approaching the apocalypse? No, we're already in the middle of it. This is the credo of the Canadian band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who herald doom with their eighth album "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!". With their own statements to the press, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have always been very reserved. But Ian Ilavsky, co-founder of the Constellation label and close confidant of the band, gives us some insight into the background of an album that is a new beginning of sorts for GY!BE.
A voice that sounds like it's coming from outer space ... a kind of countdown, hard to understand and getting lost in electronic sound garbage. Lost in space - or is it the Last Judgement? An electric guitar and a cello peel out of the droning, bizarrely beautiful and at the same time confusingly brutal. Even if the musical coordinates are completely different, one can be reminded of the effect of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man". 52 years lie between the song that made the London prog band a legend and the intro to the new album by the Montreal music collective.
Two long tracks of 20 minutes each, two shorter pieces to flank the long musical journeys. As usual, the Canadians work without lyrics, and as usual they don't give interviews. Instead, they cause a stir with cryptic statements with which they tie down their political concerns. They set their shortwave antennas to receive and came across the same heralds of the apocalypse as before, but instead of "The end times are approaching!" this time they heard "The end times are here!". This prompted them to proclaim, "This record is about all of us waiting for the end. All current forms of leadership have failed. This record is about all of us waiting for the beginning, and it is marked by the following demands: Empty the prisons. Take away the power of the police and give it to the neighborhoods they terrorize. End perpetual wars and all other forms of imperialism. Tax the rich until they become poor."
This is strong stuff, no question, but they absolutely mean it. Nevertheless, the question is how the band can translate these statements into instrumental music. Of course the sounds are very suggestive, and yet they allow for completely different associations and personal interpretations. One person to answer is Ian Ilavsky, who, along with Don Wilkie, started the Montreal-based label Constellation Records in 1997, which has since served as the home of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Personally involved in numerous musical projects, Ilavsky is a close confidant of the band, but at the same time makes it clear that he is not their spokesman: "I can only talk about it from the label's perspective, of course, but what we find interesting as Constellation Records is this political punk beyond all punk clichés. It's much more than an attitude, it's a stance. The music defies all rules, but draws on a variety of genres, first and foremost the first wave of so-called post-punk of the late 70s - and without lyrics. To make politically charged instrumental music, they prefer to resort to long formats in the tradition of Genesis or Pink Floyd. This is also where the forcefulness of their live shows and the use of their 16-millimeter projections comes from, which carry a whole other level to their music in terms of political aspects. The band is first and foremost about the music, and they strictly reject any form of cult of personality or individual authorship."