Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Brief Overview Of Godspeed You! Black Emperor

By Mark Floyd

Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a post-rock group from Montreal, Canada. They are most widely known for their lengthy songs and extensive and visual live shows. Their recordings and performances generally consist of electric guitars and percussion instruments, however more obscure instruments such as French horns and glockenspiels have been known to make appearances.

The band got their name from an ambiguous Japanese film about a motorcycle gang, the "Black Emperors". The number of people in the group is never given, ranging anywhere from 9 to 20 at any given moment. The group was on a lengthy break for a few years so that its various members could focus on other endeavors, though they are scheduled to perform together at an upcoming English festival.

All members of Godspeed consider the music to be greater than the group, which helps explain the band's ever changing line-up and lack of a front man. There's also a strict moratorium on group photos and personal interviews. This seemingly strange philosophy is a way for listeners to get closer to the music, rather than focus on trivial details.

The more outspoken members of the group state in their few interviews that large corporations are what is at fault in the media industries and the whole economy in general. In fact, most of their CD and song notes refer to the criminal behaviors of corporate media. On the group's newest album, a picture was included in the notes that hinted at a link between several major record companies to the United State's military-industrial complex.

Fans of GYBE cite their live performances as random and exciting occurrences. Because the band employs no singers they utilize scores of visual imageries in all of their shows. The films are meant to tie the message and the music together for the watching audience and are most often produced and recorded by a group member.

In the early 2000s, GYBE's band mates were mistaken for a band of criminals in a rural Oklahoma town. The group and their crew was caravaning through the mid-west on tour when, at a small gas station, an employee became convinced that they were terrorists. The authorities were called after the station attendant got another customer to call them.

The small town cops arrived and a full search and seizure ensued on the groups two van's. The groups Canadian scruffiness coupled with the plethora of anti-government documents found in their possession led the officers to call the FBI. The band was immediately questioned and detained before authorities finally decided to release them. Although they made it in time for their next show, the occurrence no doubt fueled GYBE's anarchist outlook.

They have officially released three albums since their debut in the 1990s. Since then, Godspeed You! Black Emperor has also put out several releases and EPs. Several of their songs have even come out without being on an album since GYBE encourages their fans to record their concerts. The band has even lent songs to a handful of television and movie soundtracks as well, although it happens very rarely.

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