Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I think I got the exclamation point in the right place. I knew about this band in a vague sense previously, mostly as the folks who did that neat scoring number in 28 Days Later. I only just recently sat down and really listened to them without distraction from a couple borrowed albums (Raise Your Skinny Fists & F#Q#…er, infinity) and now I clearly have to get the entire discography.

While I’m on that quest, a related question I suspect will be hopeless, but one I hope to be wrong in that suspicion of, namely: are there any other acts with a similar sound?

I believe the exclamation point has migrated around. They’re apparently some weird mysterious subversive group that refuses to identify themselves or give interviews or some such thing. It sounds silly and pretentious, but they do great music.

Great stuff to have playing on the computer while I work. They remind me a bit of early Pink Floyd, but with a grunge industrial influence instead of the Sid Barrett acid stuff.


First of all, this band is awesome. When I saw them play in Toronto a while back, they literally left the audience in tears. You don’t see a band pull that sort of thing off every day.

Secondly, Godspeed You! Black Emperor exists partially in some sort of weird artspace of their own, so not too many bands sound like them. That said, they do generally fall into a “post-rock” category, mostly for a lack of a better way to describe both them and others in the post-rock idiom. I always think they sound a little bit like Tortoise, who are sort of the Pink Floyd of the post-rock generation - I suggest “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” and “Standards” as good starting points. Mogwai is another group they get lumped together with, but I know almost nothing about them, so no help there. There’s also some crossover with Sigur Ros in terms of sounds, so that might be another good starting point.

I always wondered, who is the old guy talking in Dead Flag Blues? Is that a sample from a movie or tv show? Is it a passage from a book they had some random old guy read from?

Firstly, ditto on the band’s awesomeness.

Secondly, Mogwai has more in common with Sigur Ros then GY!BE, but they worth a listen to if you like the orchestral post-rock sound. If you prefer something more cheerful and slightly more electronic, I can also suggest Manitoba, named changed to Caribou (long story) and the following albums.

Sigur Ros - Takk
Manitoba - Up in Flames
Mogwai - Happy songs for Happy people.

Obviously, these are all more cheerful sounding than GY!BE.

Also, if you do find something similar. Don’t hesistate to share.

ah, answered my own question with a bit of googling:

“this monologue appears at the beginning of the dead flag blues from the album f#a#oo; it’s read by lee marvin and comes from incomplete movie about jail, an unfinished film that efrim wrote and has been working on for the last five years.”

ok, now who is this efram person?

“Efrim Munuck, the guitarist at the center of Godspeed and the mouthpiece out front of the instrumental combo”

I wonder if lee marvin is the Lee Marvin from Dirty Dozen et al?

Given that that Lee Marvin has been dead for eighteen years, it seems unlikely.

One GYBE side project I really like is this band called A Silver Mt. Zion. They share some members with Godspeed and have a similar sound, but they’ve got vocals and are, to me, a little more dynamic. Which is saying a lot.

Second on Silver Mt. Zion, probably as close as you’ll come to GYBE! (I caught them early, so I maintain the exclaimation at the end)

I probably enjoy their EP release more than anything, Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada. They’ve steadily been slipping, according to my taste, but it’s all still very good. They just don’t seem to bring the pieces home as authoritatively on Skinny Fists and UXO.


While we’re at it, a quick shout-out to Toronto’s Do Make Say Think, who make great instrumental guitar music in a post-rocky Tortoise-esque vein. Their 2002 album “& Yet & Yet” is fantastic - like jazz would be if jazzbos weren’t so afraid of a little distortion and volume now and then.

Hey! With all the music threads being bumped/created today I remembered to add this:

Mono, a Japanese band that my girlfriend picked up a month or so ago after hearing them on the local indie radio station and thinking they sounded a lot like GY!BE. After listening to them, I totally agree, and so does this canadian newspaper. Good stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing. Which, if you’re still reading this thread, I assume you are.

I saw them for the first time in 98 (maybe 99) in a small bar in Nashville called The End. Their stage is smaller than my daughter’s bedroom, and GSYBE! packed 2 drummers and like 6 other people on the stage, 2 or 3 people right in front of the stage, and their ever-so-artsy projector guy back blocking the entrance. It was the first time I heard anything much like that – it was more similar to Mogwai than anything else I had been listening to at the time – but I was pretty taken with it. So much so that I bought the F#Q#oo LP and fell asleep listening to it that night. Unfortunately it ends in a locked groove, and when I woke up in the morning, my record player was filled with a huge cloud of dust and the record was worn almost all the way through. Whoops.

Since then they have lost their shine a bit for me, partly because of all the pretentious faux-art garbage and socialist tomfoolery that’s mixed in and partly because they stretch 6 minutes of excellent song into a 40 minute, 2 track ep. That said, my favorite of theirs is a toss-up between the second song on “Slow Riot” and the opener on “Lift Your Tiny Fists.”

If you’re interested in more music by the same people, there are several offshoots, the most similar of which is A Silver Mt Zion, and the least similar (but fucking awesomest) of which is Broken Social Scene.

If you like the orchestral “build, build, build, build, build, build, build, destroy” aspect of their music but don’t like the nonsense, definitely pick up anything by Explosions in the Sky. Not only do whitle down a sound like GSYBE’s to its majestic, terrifying core, but they do it with only three Texans.

They have a couple of mp3’s on the site – first is Yasmin the Light off their first widely available release, “Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever”. Second is Your Hand In Mine from their more-or-less second album, “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place”.

edit – So I was moved to listen to those two songs just now, and holy shit. I’d forgotten.

I’ve seen them descrived as ‘Gy!BE light’, which I think is pretty accurate. That’s not a knock against them; I listen to Explosions in the Sky much more than GyBE, but I think every track on Yanqui UXO is more powerful (or majestic and terrifying) than anything I’ve heard Explosions do.

Then again, I don’t think their socialism is tomfoolery. I know plenty of artists who take that route, and they don’t.

Sure. I was mostly just being snide for no reason. They are nothing if not earnest in their art and their socialism.

I did think this was funny, though:

I haven’t heard GY!BE, but I’ve been listening to Mono lately, and they’re awesome. Just don’t buy the Formica Blues CD if you’re expecting heavily textured experimental guitar, 'cause that’s an entirely different Mono (they’re also good, but waaaaaay different).

If you have Rhapsody, searching for “Mono” will bring up the mellow, electronic Mono, but with one of the noise rock Mono’s albums listed; searching for “Mono (Experimental)” will turn up more. Or just search album titles for “One More Step and You Die” or “Walking cloud” (full title: “Walking cloud and deep red sky; Flag fluttered and the sun shined”).

Edit: As an aside, “Godspeed You! Black Emperor” as a thread title sounds like Koontz is back.

This may be too obscure, but for people who like the build and crash instrumental brain epic, HDU and Jakub are awesome NZ bands. Ideal starting points are Memento Mori (HDU) and Cale:Drew (Jakub).

What you guys need to listen to is Do Make Say Think. They have a couple of really cool instrumental albums with a really nice sound.

Plus, some of the members are in Broken Social Scene (the best band ever!)

Yeah, I know.

I am disgraced.

Godspeed you black emperor! New album! Buy and stream it all here! It’s great! Especially the third track!