Drift Sunday Classic: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F# A# ∞

Drift Sunday Classic: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F# A# ∞

F# A# ∞ is the 1997 debut LP from Canadian collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a stark and all consuming record of absolute magnitude. 

F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity* marked the extraordinary start to an extraordinary career. Although the post-rock scene had been evolving for a good decade (or more) before the band’s full debut, the sheer apocalyptic weight of F# A# ∞ heralded an entirely new sound. As much a soundtrack to an imagined annihilation as an album. “The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel” announces the gravel-voiced monologue on “Dead Flag Blues”, the album’s foreboding opener. There is no mistake from the get go as the quasi-orchestra set out their stall. This is going to be richly dark.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯ A♯ ∞
Although broadly no single element in what Godspeed do on F# A# ∞ was new per se, the way in which they stitched together their epic compositions, hissing and crackling field recordings and waves of warm and fuzzing noise gave them such a distinct aesthetic. Initially formed by the trio of Efrim Menuck, Mike Moya and Mauro Pezzente, the band had developed into a nine-person band by the time they released their debut and the maximalism of so many limbs working in simpatico is so hugely impressive. One of Godspeed’s greatest strengths is how in sync the players are as they swell through gradual builds to the most thundering of crescendos.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯ A♯ ∞
Another fascinating part of the album is that it appears in two different forms. It was originally released in 1997 (via the fledgling, fellow Montreal-based, Constellation Records) on vinyl, with two sides listed as "Nervous, Sad, Poor" and "Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful". It was subsequently released on CD to a much wider audience on Kranky records a year later, but rather than a straight up reissue, the band took the recordings and re-edited and re-configured them into an extended three track release that took full effect of a CD’s increased running time. This expanded opus (and it really is) is also the version that predominantly appears on streaming services too, for those of you dipping in a toe on streaming sites.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯ A♯ ∞
F# A# ∞ is dark. Really dark. The sonics that are created across the album - in either edition - are so hugely evocative, and although written about the social and cultural changes in Montreal around the album’s creation, F# A# ∞ is redolent of universal struggle, dystopia and emotional intensity. The violins cry. The drums ebb and flow between the highest peaks and the most despairing swoops. The guitars clatter. The abstract sound design paints pictures. F# A# ∞ is and was as remarkable a debut as anything before it or since, and although far from easy listening, remains a richly-dark and crescendo-driven experience. 

Drop the needle and soak in this classic. I mean, we haven't even talked about Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven yet!

Drift Sunday Classic

* We know that you all love a fact, so apparently F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity is a reference to the tuning of the guitars that created the endless loop at the record’s conclusion.
• A lush jacket on 80lb burgundy uncoated stock, with blind embossed front cover text.
• Three different front cover images (train, water tower, highway lights) are hand-glued on the front cover.
• Back covers are individually hand-drawn with illuminated cross icon and catalogue number and are hand-stamped with Constellation logo; all in silver ink.
• Inserts include a penny crushed on Montreal railroad tracks, blueprint album graphic and notes, credit sheet and reproduction of an early GY!BE show handbill - all placed inside a plain manila envelope
• Additional 8"x8" insert card of train locomotive image silkscreened in various colours on various recycled papers over the years.


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