Music Reviews
This Is Our Punk Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing

Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir This Is Our Punk Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing

(Constellation) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

In the playground of post-rock, where children try to out-do each other with increasingly pretentious naming schemes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor off-shoot Silver Mt. Zion have just stunned teacher and pupil alike, with the most ridiculous display of linguistics yet. Rising to the challenge laid down by Set Fire to Flames dual-titled sophomore LP released earlier this year, Efrim and the gang have gone for the double whammy of a stupendously long album title, and band name. The suffix 'With Choir' has appeared, and the sensible title This is our Punk Rock obviously had to be augmented with doomsday imagery, so Thee Rusted Satellites Gather & Sing adorns the cover.

Of course to the seasoned follower of Constellation Records, such eccentricities no longer have the power to surprise. The mistrust of the government and giant corporations running the world has been prominent from the moment Godspeed's f#a#infinity put the label on the map. It's testament to how unique and important the music sounds, that when your ten minutes into BBFIII from Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada, it's hard not to want to shut yourself in a barn and mourn for early 20th Century America.

This is Our Punk-Rock is perhaps the culmination of the Godspeed ideology, group leader Efrim's ode to better times, with the lyrical element explored briefly on both previous Silver Mt. Zion albums, now sitting firmly at the fore. Rather than adhering to a more traditional format, however, the lyrics have been integrated into the traditional fifteen minute epics, complementing rather than hindering the typical climactic nature of post-rock. On three of the four tracks, the vocals follow a simple pattern - several verses eventually give way to a repeated sentence or two, which builds and builds until the track ends. Despite the repetitive formula, each track is a bona fide classic, creating one of the strongest Constellation releases to date.

The 'With Choir' section also adds greatly to the first and last track of the record. On Sow Some Lonesome Corners so Many Flowers Bloom (sigh) the choir build atop a guitar line, using three syllables, 'so fa la' to create a monumental sound. The production across the record is crisper than ever before, with every voice being distinguishable. On closer Goodbye Desolate Railyard, as the choir swells for the album finale, chairs creek as voices of varying ability appear across the stereo field. The effect is impressive, the repeated line 'Everybody gets a little lost sometimes' provides a little light at the end of a rather depressing record. More than ever before, you could easily be standing next to a train track with your post-rock heroes, watching steam engines crush pennies as a warehouse falls in the distance, replaced by a sleek office block. Perhaps the one downside of this record is that spouting crap like that becomes a regular thing, and you can't help but feel how helpless our Canadian friends seem.

Whereas previous Godspeed/Silver Mt. Zion records have merely provided the soundtrack for your favourite post-apocalyptic nightmare, now the group lead us through the scene, showing us points of interest. 'The fence around your garden/Won't keep the ice from falling' Efrim advises us, and as those familiar three-note guitar lines build and build, it all feels a bit too much to take. The expected strings also sound fuller than ever. The climaxes of Babylon Was Built on Fire and American Motor over Smouldered Field become extremely claustrophobic. I've twice had to press the skip button on the former. Easy listening this is not.

As much as I have always held Godspeed, and especially Silver Mt. Zion in high regard, never before has a record of theirs felt so complete. Yanqui U.X.O., whilst good, felt as if GY!BE had hit a brick wall adhering to the common definition of 'post-rock', as in epic instrumental music. With the inclusion of voice, however, this collective has managed to reach new heights.

I may have stated recently that if the seminal Mars Volta record was bettered this year, I would dine on any dissenter's hat. I ate my beanie this afternoon, and am preparing myself for any reader donations. Next time I make such a rash statement, I'll check for the words 'With Choir' anywhere on the release schedule, for Silver Mt. Zion now sit proudly atop my end of year list.