Skip to main content

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Liquid Room, Edinburgh
Four stars


The last time Godspeed You! Black Emperor played Edinburgh was in 1998, when the Quebec-sired nontet played only their second ever UK show at the tiny Stills Gallery on Cockburn Street at the behest of the short-lived but pioneering leftfield music promoters, The House of Dubois. Given the explosive nature of the band's extended strings and guitar-led instrumentals, the venue's private view size speakers were duly blown, though not before neighbours alerted the local constabulary regarding the impending apocalypse below.

Seventeen years on, not much has changed with Godspeed's template. As the now eight-piece ensemble of two bassists, two drummers, three guitarists and lone fiddler Sophie Trudeau gradually flesh out an opening violin and bass motif, there's still the same scratched-out projections with the word 'Hope' on it that top and tails an epic two-hour suite of slow-burning thunder that move between the martial and the mournful. Sat in a circle, heads bowed in concentration, they breathe flesh
and blood onto this year's album, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, their fifth, which they play in full sandwiched between older material.

While at times harder, less nuanced and more macho than of old, there remains a raw emotional pulse that sounds like the band that spaghetti western soundtracker Ennio Morricone and Estonian composer Arvo Part might have formed if they'd been raised on Black Sabbath wig-outs and Jewish and Catholic ritual. At moments it sounds like a ceilidh at the end of the world, at others a furious purging. They depart as they came, one by one, leaving a looped cacophony which eventually
gives way to a raging calm.



The Herald, October 27th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …