THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA – Kollaps Tradixionales (2010)

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (I’ll be calling them A Silver Mt. Zion for the remainder of this review), the amorphously-named ensemble founded by members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, has had a revolving door of members since its inception. Now, on their sixth album, Kollaps Tradixionales, the band have whittled themselves down to just five members; it’s the smallest amount of members they’ve had since their debut album came out nearly ten years ago (back then, the band was only a trio). I bring this up because, on Kollaps Tradixionales, it’s impossible for anyone who’s followed the band not to hear the sound of a band trying to wed their two styles together in a more extreme manner than they’ve previously done. That the band accomplished this is not particularly noteworthy, but the fact that they were able to do it while introducing some new elements into the mix, is not only noteworthy – it’s laudable, highly so.

The music of A Silver Mt. Zion (see?) is comprised primarily of eerie, minimalist post-apocalyptic beauty and/or noisy, furious guitar lacerations. And while the band have intertwined this two seemingly opposite styles together as early as their second album (the song Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River kind of speaks for itself in this regard). But the extent to which these elements are forced into proximity here is beyond anything the band have previously done; the yin/yang of I Built Myself A Metal Bird and I Fed My Metal Bird The Wings of Other Metal Birds is truly something to behold. Efrim’s gloriously fuzzy guitar (as well as his off-pitch holler) carry the first song, while in the second song, these elements are subdued greatly, and the strings get a chance to shine. Thierry, Jessica and Sophie are textural masters, something that’s been lacking in recent Silver Mt. Zion releases, and it’s nice to hear their quivering tones rise and fall, sometimes violently, atop one another.

The most interesting (and fascinating) thing about Kollaps Tradixionales is how the band use these two styles to make music that’s less punk in origin, and more in folk. The opening piece There Is A Light, is surprisingly rustic in its melodies, and though it eventually does give way to the band’s legendary, earthshaking climaxes, it retains a sense of timelessness. The same can be said for the three “Collapse” songs (Kollapz Tradixional, Collapse Traditional and Kollaps Tradicional – whew); the melodies in each churn about amidst themes of dissatisfied nationalism, true love and desirable retribution. This trio of songs is one of the most interesting things the band have ever done. Coming from me, that’s saying a lot.

While there are certainly those who might disagree, I’d say that Godspeed You! Black Emperor were one of the most important groups active at the turn of the century; they took the scope and range of neo-classicism, the drive of bands like Mogwai, and fueled it all with righteous punk rock indignation – it’s a sound that’s totally unimitable, and since A Silver Mt. Zion have long since displaced Godspeed in terms of output and activity, they now carry on this banner. And it fits them well. They’ve taken the epic, harrowing emotionality of Godspeed and turned it into something tangible, something human, in a way that only people intimately familiar with the source could’ve done. They’ve been doing this since their inception, and they do it here, too. Traditional Collapse? Maybe of the world around us, say A Silver Mt. Zion, but certainly not of our spirits

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2 Responses to “THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA – Kollaps Tradixionales (2010)”

  1. […] Lives strike gold, they do it with gusto (There Is A Light So Bright It Blinds, unrelated to the A Silver Mt. Zion song, is better than the whole of the final Blood Brothers album, Young […]

  2. […] been done for ages; it’s been used by everyone from Dan Deacon (on the song Snookered to A Silver Mt. Zion (on…well, most every song), but Anathema manage to take such a traditional formula and make […]

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