There is a small group of people in the world who completely and unabashedly love the music of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which is most often described as some variation on “meditative”/”hypnotic” “apocalyptic”/”eschatological” “instrumental rock”/”chamber rock”. The small group of which I speak don’t usually waste their time diluting Godspeed You! Black Emperor with mere words, instead preferring to reverently listen to GY!BE’s albums in start-to-finish, moving on to learning the names of the various movements of each track (“Tazer Floyd”! “Monheim”! “Dead Metheny”!) and might end up graduating to spending full days off of work on the Internet Archive downloading Godspeed shows and listening to them over and over and over again. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I am one of these people. Instead of putting any of their music on this particular post, I wanted to share some images that come from the Godspeed You! Black Emperor camp:
For myself and the other GY!BE fans like me, they are not just an “instrumental band from Montral” – they are an ethos, an already-embodied way of life which is presented in their music, in their album artwork (see above) and show posters and in the abstract fragments of writing that sporadically appear on their website; an anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist, anti-conformist collective spirit made flesh to inspire creativity and passion. Acolytes like me are glad to have GY!BE to listen to on the cold days, to listen to on the rainy morning when taking public transportation to jobs that we hate, to listen to on the nights we sit down to do something and just can’t and we need to feel inspired. No matter how dark their music sounds or how difficult it might be for the uninitiated to make it through a whole track, for those of us who love them, Godspeed You! Black Emperor makes us feel less alone, less like we are idiots for thinking that what is going on around us is all just happening to keep the Big Broken Machine running, and more inspired to create things that might just affect others the way that we have been affected by them. Their hand-drawn album artwork – above and fourth image – is consistent with their ethos to ask fans to make their own t-shirts/buttons/etc. and retains humanity where many bands allow record labels to have a say in the album art, thus forfeiting themselves in the process. The posters are very much in the revolutionary artwork à la propaganda style and maintain consistency with the band’s anti-Establishment ways.
And if are familiar with Godspeed’s music and have never seen the clip below, I would highly suggest it. I saw it for the first time tonight and I got a number of laughs out of it.