Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Xylouris White @ Cirque Royal, Brussels – 29 April 2015
Godspeed You! Black Emperor is living proof that good things break through even without marketing exposure. After a 10 year hiatus, the Canadian post-rock band made their come back and launched an album in 2012 with a simple press-release. Despite their refusal of using the promotion channels of the nowadays music industry or with statements like ‘No singer, no leader, no interviews, no press photos.’, GY!BE not only continues to make wonderful music in 2015 but that music actually reaches people. To such extend that they sell out venues like Cirque Royal.
Xylouris White as opening act – a cross continental collaboration
‘Don’t miss Godspeed’s support act!’ insisted the organizers a few hours before the concert. XYLOURIS WHITE is a duo formed of George Xylouris playing the laouto, a long-neck instrument of the lute family which ca be found in Greece and Cyprus, and Jim White, best known for his drumming in the Australian band Dirty Three.
Intriguing combo at least for the contrasting cultural backgrounds. Xylouris is coming from a family of musicians with deep roots in the Greek traditional folk while White is known for his post-punk contribution. But their collaboration tears down such difference with an avant-garde performance breaching experimental limits. On stage, they are side by side, constantly searching for each other’s vibes through intense eye contact or obvious concentration on each other’s playing. Their instruments are on equal position and play equal role in the overall sound. The lute does its thing with virtuosity, recalling infinite worlds of traditional music. The drumming switches from softness to heaviness, constructing sound with drumsticks dancing in the air.
The chemistry between them is like between two mad scientists in a lab, searching for a cure with the use of ancient alchemy. The music is an extended jamming that becomes more and more intense even when you think that it couldn’t go any higher. For the last song, they had the presence of Thierry Amar on double bass.
The different continent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Ready to jump on a different continent? A bit after 9 pm, the eight Canadian members gradually started to take their places on a stage with little lighting. The setting would have recalled the arrangements for chamber orchestras if only hadn’t been surrounded by so many stereos and monitors. A concentrated spot from where the magic was about to emerge.
GY!BE started to unfold their already known opener ‘Hope Drone’ with dissonant strings and percussions which slowly grew into a heavy post-rock melody. Black and white images were being projected on big screens above them and the word ‘hope’ appeared there sporadically.
The setlist avoided the old discography. It also had a symmetric structure. The first part consisted of four tracks, among which two very recent songs, even too recent to figure on any material, but judging by their quality, the coming album is already a gem. ‘Mladic’ was also present, to the audience delight and heads rhythmic nodding. The second part was a treat: a true live audition of their latest album which is not even a month old. ‘Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress’ is based on a long track called ‘Behemoth’, already played live during the 2012 tour. In an authentic post-modern endeavor, GY!BE took the song into the studio and further polished it into a well acclaimed release. Now they are bringing it back on stage, better than ever.
But with all their over 20 minute pieces, the concert cannot be reduced to an eight song setlist. It was a two hour show, full of pleasure disguised in the details of their architectural sound. They totally controlled the ambience and transcended any possible combination of tone, timbre and resonance.
GY!BE’s unconventional musical church has no other signature on it than their togetherness. A collective effort to depict the word’s fragility through lucid raw sound and desolate imagery of urban landscapes, prison files, destroyed papers or mug shots. Sophie Trudeau’s magnificent violin and Efrim Menuck’s droning guitar are parts of a mechanical precision that fills up the air with a wall of sound of an intensity that never diminish, no matter if comes from cinematic mourning or visceral crescendos.
Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’
Piss Crowns Are Trebled
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