Fourteen years since their first release, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra have long since moved on from being a mere Godspeed You! Black Emperor side-project. In fact, the music found on ‘F*ck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything’ barely resembles the fragile gothic post-rock of their debut, 2000’s ‘He Has Left Us Alone…’. This is a straight-up rock album; it’s just a rock album with a wider vision than most.
That’s not to say it isn’t challenging, self-indulgent even; Efrim Menuck’s vocal affectations aren’t a million miles from how Dick Van Dyke’s Bert the chimney sweep might have sounded at the end of a heavy night on the mild. But this initial enjoyment hurdle slowly reveals a depth of tenderness and warmth.
The opening title track is a mélange of raw violin, guitar that sounds how a nasty concussion feels, and dissatisfied wails. It builds to a dense crescendo that would put many sludge bands to shame. The unresolved musical passages and confusion on display are themes explored in depth again and again across all six tracks.
The peak of the record, and its beating heart, is ‘What We Loved Was Not Enough’. Reminiscent of Low’s ‘When I Go Deaf’ in spirit, it’s an elegant 11-minute hymn. Its dynamics in turns sparse, then soaring.
It’s no surprise that four years passed between Mt Zion albums. There’s a vision and attention to detail here that’s led to an decidedly individual record that, like a new love, shares a little more with you whenever you spend some time together.
Words: James Barry
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