On Repeat: Silver Mt. Zion, “13 Blues”

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Silver Mt. Zion is the long-running off-shoot of Godspeed You Black Emperor!. Their fifth album, 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons is out March 25 (Constellation).

“13 Blues For Thirteen Moons” (edit) opens like a preparation for battle. Guitars are mounted with grainy distortion and solemn pentatonic sermons. Synths drone like bagpipes, and everyone's wearing blue face paint and skirts.

Elfrim Menuck's vocals cut in, willfully falling off tone, blood in his mouth and only semi-intelligble. You can be sure you're “six miles off from shore” and there's “ravens in the countries.” Beyond that, just find something to hold on to.

Perhaps listeners will be fooled into hearing this cut as proof positive that Silver Mt. Zion has veered towards structural restraint, but you might not get the full effect with this mp3, which is a 5:24 edit of a 16:46 track on the band's upcoming 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons. The full piece is arguably (sans vocal) the most Godspeed of the whole album if measured by length and freedom of association between its sections; after the sample streaming above, the piece drops down to a desolate blues line on the guitar before building back towards a lilting four piece rock arrangement and Efrim Menuck sounding almost like Damon Albarn crooning across one of those recent dub-infused tracks by The Good, The Bad an The Queen, without the warm blanket of studio over-production. Any comparisons are soon drowned in the overwhelming attack, restrained throughout the entire album until its final two minutes. I guess listeners should experience that for themselves.