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Posted on April 1st, 2015 (10:00 am) by Magdalene Taylor

There is no post-rock band with such a capacity for sound as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and with each new release, they prove it again. Every album expands the realm of possibility for sound of all forms: orchestral, dissonant, heartbreaking, utterly uncomfortable sound. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is, at any given time, all of these things or none of them, and though their newest work, Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress fits this assessment just the same, it manages to sound equally as individual and provocative as the rest. In its brightest moments, the album seems to drip old-world gold, but in its darkest, it scratches lightly but menacingly on modern glass.

Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress marks the band’s first full-length release since their debut album, F#, A#, ∞, but follows the dichotomous structure that defines most of their previous work, balancing massive post-rock builds with jarring, experimental discordance. With GY!BE, there is very little in between. Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress rolls in almost ceremoniously with “Peasantry, or ‘Light! Inside of Light,” taking about 20 seconds to state which of the two types of sounds it will be emphasizing. The percussion focused track hits with cinematic grandeur, evoking hazy scenes in one’s head. “Peasantry, or ‘Light! Inside of Light” is like watching an elaborate caravan pass by through the dunes of the desert mere hours from one’s expected solitary death from dehydration. It’s glorious, it’s hopeful, but it might be a mirage. There is something ancient, yet otherworldly about the richness of this track. Its layers of horn and effortless drumming over post-rock saturated bass and guitar deliver the splendor that GY!BE always promises to provide.

The following two tracks, “Lambs Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet” stand in stark contrast. Together they provide sixteen minutes of atonal erosion, peaking in moments of seering mechanical noise, then hitting dark lows of cold singularity. They mark the dawning of a revelation of truth, a clearing of false reality, and the knowledge that the images from before were certainly not real. And yet, the images return once more in the final track, “Piss Crowns Are Trebled.” The lavishness of “Peasantry” is synthesized with the inhospitable bleakness of “Lambs Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet” in a way that is truly tragic. Around 8:20, the song grows into a colossal mass of energy, expanding until the anticipated breaking point, yet fading right before the moment comes. Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress ends in a luminous glistening death.

This LP marks another triumph for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, delivering gut wrenching narrative once more. Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress rises in ornate, grandiose ritual, then tells us it is fake. Despite our new knowledge of our sheepish ways, we can not help but believe again when they tempt us further with the imagery, though we know it is tainted.

Track List:

  1. Peasantry, or ‘Light! Inside of Light
  2. Lambs Breath
  3. Asunder, Sweet
  4. Piss Crowns Are Trebled
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet, and Other Distress Review
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Our Rating

82 / 100
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