Godspeed You! Black Emperor

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed You Black Emperor! - London Nov 20003.jpg
Godspeed You! Black Emperor performing live in London, England in November 2000
Background information
Also known asGodspeed You Black Emperor!, Godspeed, GY!BE, God's Pee, Pee'd Emp'ror
Origin Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1994–2003, 2010–present
Labels Constellation, Kranky
Associated acts Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Set Fire to Flames, Fly Pan Am, HṚṢṬA, Esmerine, Hiss Tracts
Website brainwashed.com/godspeed/
Past members
  • John Littlefair
  • Thea Pratt
  • Bruce Cawdron
  • Norsola Johnson
  • Roger Tellier-Craig
  • Grayson Walker
  • James Chau
  • Peter Harry Hill
  • Fluffy Erskine

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a Canadian experimental music collective which originated in Montreal, Quebec in 1994. The group releases recordings through Constellation, an independent record label also located in Montreal. After the release of their debut album in 1997, the group toured regularly from 1998 to 2002. Their second album, 2000’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven , received great critical acclaim and has been named as one of the best albums of the decade. [2] In 2003, the band announced an indefinite hiatus in order for members to pursue other musical interests. In the intervening period, the group was occasionally rumored to have broken up, [3] [4] but finally reconvened for a tour which began in late 2010. Since reforming, they have released three more albums, the most recent being Luciferian Towers in September 2017.

Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sensibilites radically opposed to, and questioning of, institutionalized compositional, performing, and aesthetic conventions in music. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music, in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. Artists may also approach a hybrid of disparate styles or incorporate unorthodox and unique elements.

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.


The band has gained a dedicated cult following and remains very influential in the post-rock genre. [5] [6] [7] [8] In September 2013, their fourth album and their comeback release after 10 years, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! , won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

Cult following Group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of culture

A cult following comprises a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a work of culture, often referred to as a cult classic. A film, book, musical artist, television series or video game, among other things, is said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fanbase. A common component of cult followings is the emotional attachment the fans have to the object of the cult following, often identifying themselves and other fans as members of a community. Cult followings are also commonly associated with niche markets. Cult media are often associated with underground culture, and are considered too eccentric or subversive to be appreciated by the general public or to be commercially successful.

Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by a focus on exploring textures and timbre over traditional rock song structures, chords, or riffs. Post-rock artists are often instrumental, typically combining rock guitars and drums with electronic instruments. The genre emerged within the indie and underground music scene of the 1980s and early 1990s. However, due to its abandonment of rock conventions, it often bears little resemblance musically to contemporary indie rock, borrowing instead from diverse sources including ambient music, electronica, jazz, dub, and minimalist classical.

<i>Allelujah! Dont Bend! Ascend!</i> 2012 studio album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! is the fourth studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released on October 15, 2012 by Constellation Records. After reforming in 2010, the group went on tour and silently released the album at a concert in Boston on October 1, 2012, with official release dates on October 15 in Europe and the following day in other countries. The album received positive reviews and has been heralded as a comeback for the collective, winning the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

The band is also known for their song "East Hastings" from the 1997 album F♯ A♯ ∞ , which was used in the film 28 Days Later in an edited version. [9] "East Hastings" does not appear on the 28 Days Later: The Soundtrack Album because the rights to the song could not be obtained. [10]

"East Hastings" is a 1997 song by the Canadian rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor from their debut album F♯ A♯ ∞ and is perhaps best known for its use in the film 28 Days Later in an edited version.

<i>F♯ A♯ ∞</i> 1997 studio album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

F♯ A♯ ∞ is the debut studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It was first released on August 14, 1997 by Constellation Records on vinyl and on June 8, 1998 by Kranky on CD. Recorded at the Hotel2Tango in the Mile End of Montreal, the album is devoid of traditional lyrics and mostly instrumental, featuring lengthy songs segmented into movements and wide dynamics. It was initially released in very limited quantities, and was mainly distributed through live performances and advertised by word of mouth.

<i>28 Days Later</i> 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle

28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland, and starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, and Brendan Gleeson. The plot depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors to cope with the destruction of the life they once knew while evading those infected by the virus.


Godspeed You! Black Emperor was formed in 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, by Efrim Menuck (guitar), Mike Moya (guitar), and Mauro Pezzente (bass). [11] The band took its name from God Speed You! Black Emperor , a 1976 Japanese black-and-white documentary by director Mitsuo Yanagimachi, which follows the exploits of a Japanese biker gang, the Black Emperors. [11] The band initially assembled after being offered a supporting act for another local band named Steak 72. [12] Thereafter, the trio performed live on a few separate occasions, before ultimately deciding to produce an album. The cassette, All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling , was self-released in December 1994 and limited to thirty-three copies. [13]

Efrim Menuck Canadian musician

Efrim Manuel Menuck is a Canadian musician involved with a number of Montreal-based bands, most notably Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. Menuck is also a frequent record producer and engineer, working with musicians from Montreal and abroad.

Electric guitar electrified guitar; fretted stringed instrument with a neck and body that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

Mike Moya Canadian musician

Mike Moya is a Canadian rock musician, who is one of the founding members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He left the band in 1998 to concentrate on his other bands Molasses, Set Fire to Flames and HṚṢṬA., but rejoined the band during their reunion in 2010. He was part of the live band of labelmate Elizabeth Anka Vajagic. He currently lives between Berlin and Montreal with his partner Maria Hinze and their family.

After the limited release of the cassette, the band quickly expanded and continued to perform live periodically. According to Menuck, joining the group was quite simple: "It was like if anyone knew anybody who played an instrument and seemed like an okay person, they would sort of join up." [14] In short order, the group's numbers ebbed and flowed. Local musicians would often join the band for a handful of performances, then depart. The revolving door nature of the group's membership frequently caused it strain before the release of F♯ A♯ ∞ . [14] After that release, the group stabilized around a nine-person lineup with Menuck, Moya and David Bryant on guitars, Pezzente and Thierry Amar on bass guitars, Aidan Girt and Bruce Cawdron on drums, and Sophie Trudeau and Norsola Johnson on violin and cello respectively. Moya would depart in 1998 to focus on HṚṢṬA, being replaced by Roger Tellier-Craig of Fly Pan Am. [15]

David Bryant (musician) Canadian musician and film director

David Bryant is a Canadian musician, recording engineer, and film-maker best known for being a member of Montreal-based bands Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire to Flames, and Hiss Tracts. In 2015 he co-directed the film Quiet Zone and has written music for other films.

Fly Pan Am, or Le Fly Pan Am, are a Canadian experimental rock band formed in Montreal in 1996. They release their albums through the Montreal-based Constellation Records, producing and collaborating on works with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Shalabi Effect.

Although various members of the band are often pinned down as anarchists, for a rather long time no one in the band explicitly subscribed to this label; [16] however, as of 2014, Menuck was calling himself an anarchist. [17] In any case, there is a strong political component to the band's music. [18] Much of the band's music exudes far-left themes. For example, the liner notes to Yanqui U.X.O. describe the song "09-15-00" as "Ariel Sharon surrounded by 1,000 Israeli soldiers marching on al-Haram Ash-Sharif & provoking another Intifada," [19] and the back cover of that album depicts the relationships of several major record labels to the military–industrial complex. [20] Several of its songs also incorporate voice samples which express political sentiments, most notably "The Dead Flag Blues" (on F♯A♯∞) and "BBF3" (on Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada).

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that rejects hierarchies deemed unjust and advocates their replacement with self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism's central disagreement with other ideologies is that it holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system".

Liner notes

Liner notes are the writings found on the sleeves of LP record albums and in booklets which come inserted into the compact disc jewel case or the equivalent packaging for vinyl records and cassettes.

Members of the group have formed a number of side projects, including Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Fly Pan Am, HṚṢṬA, Esmerine, and Set Fire to Flames.

The band released the CD versions of its first two albums and EP on the Kranky record label, and released the LPs through Constellation Records. All editions of their subsequent studio material have been released through Constellation.

In 2004, long-time guitarist Roger Tellier-Craig left the band on amicable terms to devote more time to Fly Pan Am. [21]

The group was once misconstrued as being a band of terrorists. [22] [23] After stopping at a local gas station for fuel in the town of Ardmore, Oklahoma, during their 2003 tour of the United States, the station attendant working that day believed the group of Canadians to be terrorists. She quickly passed a note to another customer asking them to call the police. When the local police appeared, the group was held until it could be questioned by the FBI. Although the police were suspicious of the band's anti-government documents and some photos it had (such as those of oil rigs), they found no incriminating evidence. After background checks were run, the ensemble was released from custody and continued on its way to its next show in Saint Louis, MO. Efrim Menuck later spoke to the crowd during their appearance in Missouri about what happened to them and speculated that their origin was a motive for being released quickly ("It's a good thing we're nice white kids from Canada"). [24] The incident was mentioned in Michael Moore's book Dude, Where's My Country? . [25]

In 2010, the band reported it was reuniting for an All Tomorrow's Parties music event in the UK as well as further US dates. Mike Moya re-joined the band for the reunion, while original cellist Norsola Johnson declined to participate. The band played a full North American and European tour in 2011, and more dates in the UK including an appearance at the ATP 'I'll Be Your Mirror' music festival in London.

The following year the band appeared at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago and the 2012 All Tomorrow's Parties I'll Be Your Mirror festival in New York. [26] Drummer Timothy Herzog began touring with the band after the departure of Bruce Cawdron.

In 2013, the band won the Polaris Music Prize, but it criticized the cost of the ceremony during the time of austerity, stating, "Maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords." [27]

On March 31, 2015, Godspeed You! Black Emperor released its fifth album, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress . [28] On September 22, 2017, the group released its sixth album, Luciferian Towers . [29]

Live concerts

Film loop projections are an important aspect of the group's live show, explained by Efrim Menuck as "[putting] the whole into context". [30]

Because the band is taper-friendly—that is, it allows audience members to record its live performances—fans often release new material before the band makes an official recording. [31]

The band toured Australia/New Zealand for the first time in February 2013, including a performance at the All Tomorrow's Parties 'I'll Be Your Mirror' festival in Melbourne on February 16.

The band toured China for the first time in April 2013, giving performances in Shanghai and Beijing, [32] and revisited China in March 2016. [33]

The band supported Nine Inch Nails on its Tension tour in October 2013, starting at the TD Garden in Boston on October 11. [34]

After a break for much of 2014 the band embarked on a busy schedule of concert and festival dates across North America, Europe and around the world during 2015 and 2016. [35] Two new songs were previewed in many of the shows picking up the fan titles "Buildings" and "Railroads" from the projections that accompanied them. The band also lent live performances of some of their older and current tracks to a revival of the 2005 work "monumental", by Canadian dance troupe, Holy Body Tattoo during 2016. [36]



Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Efrim Menuck Godspeed You Black Emperor! - London Nov 20001.jpg
Efrim Menuck
Mauro Pezzente Godspeed You Black Emperor! - London Nov 20004.jpg
Mauro Pezzente
David Bryant Godspeed You Black Emperor! - London Nov 20005.jpg
David Bryant
Sophie Trudeau Sophie Trudeau Oct 2012.jpg
Sophie Trudeau


Studio albums

See also

Related Research Articles

Constellation Records is a Canadian independent record label based in Montreal, Quebec. It has released albums by many post-rock bands, including Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band and Do Make Say Think.

<i>All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling</i> 1994 studio album by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling is claimed to be the earliest release from Canadian experimental musical collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. According to a 1998 interview with the band, the album was published on cassette in December 1994 and limited to 33 copies. At this point, the group consisted only of Efrim Menuck, Mauro Pezzente, and Mike Moya. No copies of the release are known to exist and the music has been "thought to be lost forever by the band's fans".

<i>Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven</i> 2000 studio album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is the second studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released as a double album on 9 October 2000 on vinyl by Constellation and 8 November 2000 on CD by Kranky.

<i>Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada</i> 1999 EP by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada, also stylized as Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada, is the first EP and second release by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It was released on the Montreal-based record label Constellation Records in 1999, and was re-released by Kranky.

<i>He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms...</i> 2000 studio album by A Silver Mt. Zion

He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms… is the debut album of Canadian post-rock group A Silver Mt. Zion, who now record under the name Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. The album was recorded by guitarist Efrim Menuck and bassist Thierry Amar at the Hotel2Tango in 1999, mostly during breaks while touring with Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It was published by the Montreal-based record label Constellation on March 27, 2000.

Sophie Trudeau Canadian post-rock singer and violinist

Sophie Trudeau is a Canadian musician. She is best known as a member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and co-founder of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band. She also plays in a number of other bands, including Valley of the Giants and The Mile End Ladies String Auxiliary.

Thierry Amar is a Canadian musician, engineer and producer. He is a member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Earthquake Architecture, The Craig Pedersen Quartet and Black Ox Orkestar.

Aidan Girt is a Canadian drummer for the Montreal-based post-rock collectives Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Exhaust. He is also a solo electronic artist under the moniker 1-Speed Bike and occasionally Bottleskup Flenkenkenmike. He is currently known as OSB, and sells music via his Bandcamp page. In 2019 Grit began releasing music as a duo with guitarist Eric Quach under the name Some Became Hollow Tubes.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra band

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra is a Canadian band which formed in 1999, originating from Montreal, Quebec. Variations of the name used on the band's releases include A Silver Mt. Zion, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band with Choir and Thee Silver Mountain Reveries); the group use the shorthand SMZ and their name is most often simplified to Silver Mt. Zion. The group has undergone almost yearly personnel changes, evolving by stages from a mostly instrumental trio at the time of their first recordings into an eight-piece group, and then in 2008 into a strongly vocal quintet.

Mauro Pezzente is a Canadian musician. He is best known as being co-founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

<i>13 Blues for Thirteen Moons</i> 2008 studio album by Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band

13 Blues for Thirteen Moons is the fifth full-length album by the Canadian post-rock group, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestr & Tra-La-La Band. The album was released in March 2008. The album consists of an instrumental feedback intro, split into twelve extremely short tracks, and four full songs, which had been played live on recent tours.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor discography

The discography of Godspeed You! Black Emperor—a Canadian post-rock musical collective from Quebec—consists of six studio albums, one extended play, one split single, and two contributions to various artists compilation albums.

<i>Yanqui U.X.O.</i> 2002 studio album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Yanqui U.X.O. is the third studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released on November 4, 2002 by Constellation. It was recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago in late 2001, and was the band's first album released after their slight name change. Lacking both their characteristic interwoven field recordings and specifically named movements, the album was instead described by the band as "just raw, angry, dissonant, epic instrumental rock". Shortly after its release, the group announced an indefinite hiatus so band members could pursue differing musical interests.

<i>Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress</i> 2015 album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is the fifth studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released on March 31, 2015 by Constellation Records. The album was recorded with Electrical Audio engineer Greg Norman in North Carolina and Montreal, and was the first to feature completely new material since the band's reformation in 2010. It is also, with the exception of the vinyl version of F♯ A♯ ∞, the group's shortest album to date, timing in at just forty minutes.

<i>Luciferian Towers</i> 2017 album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Luciferian Towers is the sixth studio album by Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released on 22 September 2017 by Constellation Records. Information about the album was leaked via a press release on 13 July 2017, prior to the official announcement on 2 August 2017.


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