hello folks! today we’re taking a look at F♯ A♯ ∞ from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, originally released on vinyl in 1996 and re-released in an expanded version on CD in 1997. we’ll be taking a look at that longer version today!

The Dead Flag Blue spends the first six or so minutes instroducing the end of the world – a short narration followed by some teuly sad sounding strings. i like the way they loop back on each other and build and echo – its a sound that starts bittersweet and then grows to a wailing somberness, then slowly moves into melancholy. the middle section, given the title “Slow Moving Trains” / “The Cowboy..” is extremely cool. i absolutely dig The Cowboy… portion – they echo the slow melancholic build from the intro, but this time with western guitars. the slow trek through the desert makes a good parallel as a post-apocalypse, not gonna lie. very cool piece. the outro kinda blends the too – its almost warm saloon music, haha. a nice refuge for a weary traveller at the end of the world. sweet way to close it out. East Hastings begins with a short segment titled “Nothing’s Alrite in Our Lives” / “Dead Flag Blues (Reprise)”. this opening section has what sounds like a recording of a street preacher, and a bagpipe is laid over it – based on the title of this movement, it sounds like its echoing some of the melodies from the previous track. the bulk of the rest of the track is “The Sad Mafioso”. its got a slow start but again, the way it crests here kicks absolute ass. big fan. the last few minutes of the track are “Drugs In Tokyo” / “Black Helicopter”. there’s some harsher noise being played with in this segment, and im not a huge fan, personally. Providence, the final track and half thr album, begins with “Divorce & Fever”, a section that is half an interview with someone who doesnt buy the apocalyptic setting proposed by the first two tracks, and a somber instrumental segment. “Dead Metheny” is a neat segment – its clear at this point that the slow build and increase in intensity is a big part of the sections of the record, not just layering but also increasing the intensity in the mix and the tempo to build a sense of almost fervor. the end of Dead Metheny feels like it coulda ended the track – the transition to “Kicking Horse on Brokenhill” is like, a few solid seconds of silence. im not huge on the first part, but late into the section they incorporate that marching beat style of snare drum, and i really like the effect. “String Loop Manufactured During Downpour.. ” has a single repeated voice sample and a large amount of static fuzz. this one kinda deconstructs itself. the straight up silence afterwards feels a bit like trying to hide a secret track, though in this case it may just be a reset of tone. “J.L.H. Outro” brings both the track and the record to a close. definitely the rockiest segment of the record – i dig the way they juxtapose the guitar and the intense drumming here. its a very neat effect.

faves –
dislikes –

i had a much better time with this record than i expected going in.

are you familiar with color field paintings? im not normally a massive fan, as im not much of a painter and a lot of the technical components kinda miss me, but whenever i go to art museums if they have field paintings i spend a bit of extra time with them. given that these paintings are normally much larger than you’d expect, a large component of experiencing them is having them take up so mucj of your field of view. they have such a different approach to evoking feelings in the viewer, that so much of it is tied to standing in front of one, dwarfed by its size, and asking “what does this make me feel”, that it is really hard to experience them in reproductions. you dont get the sense of scope or scale in a textbook or online.

i thought about field paintings a lot on this record. with the segment titles, there is obviously a lot of apocalyptic and especially post-apocalyptic thoughts on this record, but i think a lot of that comes through in the vibes. it FEELS like wandering around a desolate place, largely menial but punctured by high-intensity moments. i tend to shy away from ambient tracks and longform tracks, and this record is a lot of both, but approaching them from a different angle, imagining myseld surrounded by the sound and focusing on what that drew out of me, definitely helped me explore what i thought the band wanted me to feel. it sounds almost art analysis 101 – asking that kinda question is vital to all art analysis – but i found the recontextualization in terms of a style of art i also dont necessarily personally enjoy but do derive quite a bit of satisfaction out of analyzing helped in digesting this one. hopefully it does with future works like this too.

F♯ A♯ ∞ – 7/10

for the next Weekly Album Review, i’ll be listening to Fragile, by Yes. i’ll be back next Friday, December 22nd with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.)