Monday, February 27, 2006

Like Antennas To Heaven

I have to admit I've always been somewhat skeptical when it comes to those string quartet tributes Travis posted about yesterday. It sounds entertaining in principal: take music that's proven and popular, and translate it for a new sonic palette. Unfortunately for us, the translations tend to be painfully literal, which sort of takes me out of the moment, even if the players on the albums are competent. Then again, it's been a while since I've heard any of these, so I guess I'll have to give them one more chance.

For my contribution, I've collected a few songs that I feel make exceptional use of strings. First up: Canadian violin whizkid Owen Pallett, also known as Final Fantasy. Pallett's primary instrument is the violin, and his primary weapon is a collection of incredibly wonderful songs. The combination's results are refreshing, beautiful, and very hard to classify.

Godspeed You Black Emperor are an instrumental collective from Montreal. Their albums are massive undertakings, usually fusing a full hour of continuous music and sampled sounds onto a single disc. Lift Your Skinny Fists... is the opening track on the double-album of the same name. If you've never heard this before, make sure you dim the lights and crank the volume. That's really the only way to experience it. The song itself begins with a barely audible horn and guitar part that blossoms and eventually explodes as the song keeps rising higher towards a climax it can barely contain. And then it ends.

Hoppipolla is from last year's Takk by Sigur Ros. This was one of the highlight tracks for me, featuring a sweet piano melody elevated by a rich, sweeping string section. And finally, The Faint's Wet From Birth had strings all over it. From the moment those quick high notes come stabbing in over the pulsing bass line on this tune, I was hooked. Quite simply, it rawks.

[mp3] Final Fantasy - The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead
[mp3] Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
[mp3] Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
[mp3] The Faint - Southern Belles in London Sing

* Buy Final Fantasy - Has A Good Home
* Buy Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists...
* Buy Sigur Ros - Takk
* Buy The Faint - Wet From Birth
* More Godspeed tracks at their official website

4 comments:

Trevor said...

I don't know about comparing post-rock bands such as gy!be with 'final fantasy'. Sigur ros is another great post-rock band, but I'm suprised you missed explosions in the sky.

Does gy!be sound familiar? The track 'East Hastings' is the openning balad on 28 days later. Their music is pretty dark(most of the 10-20 musicians are anarchists), but turn off the lights, get a good pair of ear-covering headphones and you will be blown away.

That is if you have patience to listen to 20 minutes+ songs which is par for the course in post-rock.

The Trick said...

I agree 100%, but to be fair, the theme of this post was acts using strings in their music, not post-rock. If that were the case, Explosions in the Sky would definitely have been present, as well as the other usual suspects (I'm lookin' at you, Mogwai!).

As a side note, GY!BE also give a live performance that is one in a million. Be sure to catch 'em if they play near you. And if you have sensitive ears, you may want to consider earplugs, 'cause they're really loud.

Thanks for visiting!

Trevor said...

True, but when you said

"Godspeed You Black Emperor are an instrumental collective from Montreal. Their albums are massive undertakings, usually fusing a full hour of continuous music and sampled sounds onto a single disc. Lift Your Skinny Fists... is the opening track on the double-album of the same name. If you've never heard this before, make sure you dim the lights and crank the volume. That's really the only way to experience it. The song itself begins with a barely audible horn and guitar part that blossoms and eventually explodes as the song keeps rising higher towards a climax it can barely contain. And then it ends.
"

You didn't mention strings, and I thought if someone were to enjoy gy!be the way you described it, they would also enjoy explosions in the sky.

:)

The Trick said...

You've got me there. Maybe we'll do an Explosions in the Sky feature somewhere down the road in that context. They really are a great band.