Canada's Godspeed You Black Emperor raise the ante on their already ambitious orchestral rock by releasing a double CD of material as their second full-length album. The group combines the drums and guitar of typical rock-band instrumentation with horns and strings to create a music built around drones and slowly evolving melodic figures. It rises and falls from delicate introductory passages to unabashed grand climaxes. Their juxtaposition of drums with violins and lush romantic tonality brings to mind Rachel's, but their compositional scale and the pounding repetitive intensity of their dynamic peaks evoke Glenn Branca's The Ascension. Although the two discs are indexed at only two 21-minute tracks each, the package includes a handy road map to the movements into which each is subdivided. The opening piece starts with five minutes of a 15-beat circular melodic pattern that is gradually embellished as the volume swells to an ecstatic roar. The release drops down to a pastoral drone that rebuilds to support an acid-etched guitar solo, which in turn yields to a unified 4/4 kraut rock pound that eventually explodes, leaving behind field recordings of public announcements mingled with wandering late-night Swell Maps piano. The other pieces use a similar set of sonic building blocks to take the listener on comparable journeys. Fans of Godspeed's previous work will be very happy, and the curious might want to hop on board as well.
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