Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra Kollaps Tradixionales(Constellation) Buy it from Insound
When it comes to who’s in this or that band this week, I confess to being totally clueless. I’ll listen to a finished product, but unless something really startles me out of my shoes, I don’t really care about the machinations and specific personnel that created it. So a small portion of my brain has been dutifully waiting several years for the next Godspeed You Black Emperor Album to appear, whereas it now appears that the ‘Silver Mt. Zion’ side project has become something more permanent than the band that spawned it. It's hard to keep track of how many Zion albums are out there now since they mischievously change their full name with almost every release. According to their website, this is the band’s sixth release, which bests GYBE by one if I’m counting correctly. Which tells me I should stop pining for the band that was, for my money, the greatest expression of post-rock.
That being said, Zion is no pale imitation. Sure, the outlook is still unrelentingly bleak, and the manipulation of dynamics is still the primary modus operandi. But the forms owe more to, yes, traditional hymns and ballads. They kick things off at a dirge-like pace with There is a Light, a 15 minute cry of desperation that you might expect to hear in a church in the aftermath of a nuclear war. The repeated call to the heavens to “Tell me”, starts with a plea and ends in spiteful anger and disappointment; when the chorus of angels close things out, it’s hard to miss the irony. Lovers of the GYBE potent combo of strings and guitars will dig the Metal Birds tunes, especially the second one, which had this reviewer recalling the more chilling moments of Yanqui U.X.O.. This is followed by the Collapse trilogy of songs, culminating in the Celtic-inspired Kollaps Tradicional, which is so defiant it wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack of Braveheart.
They may be pared down to 5 members now, but they still generate a big band noise. Whether this is down to overdubbing or clever use of atmospherics is anyone’s guess, but the results are convincing. I bet they’re kicking themselves for having to split the performance fee with a whole commune of instrumentalists. Oh well, the socialist ideal is difficult to maintain, especially in a shitty economy like this one. All I know is that the ever evolving Silver Mt. Zion outfit is carrying on where GYBE left off and doing a mensch job of it. Fans of post-rock and the slow burn will not be let down.4 March, 2010 - 15:54 — Alan Shulman