Yanqui U.X.O. [Constellation]

Remember those World War II footages of bombs falling over cities seen from the P.O.V. of the bomb hatch? Remember those few seconds of whizzing silence before the explosions? Well, if anything, Montreal's post-rock nonet, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, have managed the impossible, the sound of impending doom. I have called their music apocalyptic before and after four releases, they have consistently given us that sense of beauty and dread, that zen moment when you are hanging on a branch about to fall on the tiger below and then you reach out for the cherry.

And, of course, the music is apocalyptic. As the album's cover artwork points out, every major record company is linked to a military technology corporation that produces the kind of arms and unexploded ordnance (U.X.O. or landmines and cluster bombs) that's set to give grief somewhere sometime in the world.

The album consists of three song blocks. 09-15-00 is a pair of tracks referring to Ariel Sharon's provocation of another Palestinian intifada. Rockets fall on Rockets Fall reverses the Godspeed habit of slow-build-up until crescendo, by having the maelstrom first with the music scaling down and tapering off. It's more ominous as it suggests the anxiety of bombs about to explode again. Mother****er-Redeemer is another pair of tracks, an epic and balanced melding of the band's classical and rock influences.

Yanqui U.X.O. is a quieter-than-usual Godspeed album but it's designed to be eerily quiet, a soundtrack to an impending war perhaps. Van Morrison once coined the phrase "Inarticulate speech of the heart." Godspeed has riffed on that and they have now achieved an inarticulate speech from the gut. — Philip Cheah

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