Godspeed You! Black Emperor - A potted history
The post-rock deities set for 2011 UK tour
One should never underestimate the power of the bagpipe. It played a key role, after all, in F# A# ∞ (F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity) – the official debut from Canadian post-rock deities Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
The anarchic, enigmatic (not to mention staunchly camera and interview-shy) collective embraced the skirl on ‘East Hastings’, one of three sprawling, long-form tracks on their aforesaid 1997 calling card (it was preceded by a self-released cassette, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, limited to 33 copies, in 1994). But Godspeed’s assimilation of bagpipes into their beatific instrumental arsenal was far from the only noteworthy incident on their inaugural album: its haunting and sublime terrain of neo-classical grandeur, field recordings, loops and samples drew breaths and plaudits from all who encountered it, and the band’s relentless audio-visual gigs followed suit.
Godspeed’s gargantuan, salient psalms prompted the NME to crown them ‘the last great band of the century’ and render them cover stars in the late 90s, while Danny Boyle used ‘East Hastings’ as the musical centrepiece for his post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later. Top Gear got their fingers burnt though: they once played a clip of ‘9-15-00’ and swiftly had to apologise to the anti-consumerist rabble for doing so.
Godspeed surfaced from a seven-year hiatus to curate ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas last year. While revered offshoots like A Silver Mt Zion had filled the dire gap in our ears and hearts, they were welcomed back with open arms. They re-emerged, abstruse as ever: swathed in myth and baleful beauty; peerless orchestrators of the end of days.
The Arches, Glasgow, Fri Jul 22.