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Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

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Album Review

Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, the much-anticipated follow-up to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Slow Riot, is a double-disc achievement of four works (each with multiple parts): "Storm," "Static," "Sleep," and "Antennas to Heaven." It is a windfall for any fan of ambient pop, orchestral rock, space rock, or simply lush string arrangements who understands how powerful love, melancholy, and frustration can be. The main complaint voiced by critics of Godspeed's music is that their works just repeat the same pattern: start out sparse and slow, build-build-build, crescendo. While there are certainly crescendos, there is no such predictable pattern repeated among the works on Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven — it's loaded with dynamics, unexpected sections, strong emotions and beauty.

The album opener, "Storm," is a leap for GY!BE that, alone, makes this release worth getting. It's a rapturous work that rises with a potent melancholy, driven by heartrending emotions. "Storm" vents a powerful frustration (each listener can insert their own reasons why) with majestic screams of strings, guitars, and layers, resulting in a climactic and passionate soaring. It eventually winds down into an exhausted aftermath of piano, underlying drones, and frustrated rants. The second piece, "Static," is a wandering, isolationist piece of bleak expanses shaded with darker emotions, but the remaining two works raise the album back up to the impressive standard set by the opening cut, though with less furor and even more loveliness. "Sleep" opens with an elderly gentleman reminiscing about Coney Island, and his frank and amusing narration briefly recalls the recordings of David Greenberger and scenes from the documentary Vernon, FL. This narration is followed by a slow and melodic piece featuring a pseudo-theremin effect amidst all of the other instrumentation. "Antennas to Heaven" opens with someone playing acoustic guitar, singing "What'll We Do with the Baby-O," soon washed over with sound, which then gives way to a brief chorus of glockenspiels, and on.

During most of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, musical and emotional opposites alternate as regularly, and naturally, as breathing: delicate string work and rock-out guitar and drums, spoken word and walls of sound, gracious and possessed, tip-toes and cliff-diving, dark hallways and blinding sunshine.

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The instrumental multimedia Montreal group Godspeed You! Black Emperor create extended, repetition-oriented chamber rock. The minimal and patient builds-to-crescendo of the group's compositions results in a meditative and hypnotic listen that becomes almost narrative...
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