WHAT Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯ A♯ ∞
WHEN The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen - 27 March 2000
“The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we’re on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn
We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death
The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles”
Who the hell opens their debut album with a spoken word piece from their own abandoned film script? From their first recorded moment, Godspeed You! Black Emperor set out their stall and everyone else can go fuck themselves. Serious, dystopian and uncompromising, "F♯ A♯ ∞" is almost underdone by its own solemnity, but its steely self belief holds it together. With wandering guitar lines and lush string sections, it creates a progressively darkening dream-state that ladles out feelings of paranoia, dread and impending apocalypse.
Compared to Swans’ pummelling beat-downs or Big Black’s blunt force trauma (both of which I love), "F♯ A♯ ∞" is a masterclass in playing the long game as it inexorably overwhelms you in its very, very bleak now-world. I first saw them live supporting Sigur Rós in Aberdeen which was a bit like sending Nick Cave to open for Kylie Minogue... they were almost invisible onstage - hidden behind a set on a obscure projections - and never spoke. Mystery maintained.
Lock the doors, turn out the lights, be scared.