Three members of Canadian post-rock ensemble Godspeed You Black Emperor form the nucleus of A Silver Mt. Zion whose forlorn chamber-rock, dominated by piano and violin, differs drastically from the slow-building crescendos of their primary band. The first three tracks segue into each other, forming a mesmerizing suite that defines this debut album's stark, doomy atmosphere. In the opening “Broken Chords Can Sing a Little,” sparse, desolate piano chords and grim violins are joined by the sound of radio static. Guitar and drums enter on “Sit in the Middle of Three Galloping Dogs,” finding common ground between tonal modern classicism and post-Sonic Youth noise rock while a delay effect is added to the violin, recalling Steve Reich's “Violin Phase.” “Stumble Then Rise on Some Awkward Morning” pares back to piano and violins, which accelerate to a dramatic, but still melancholy, finish. Like most of the releases on the Constellation label, this is album-oriented-rock in the most literal sense; while the first three tracks are certainly He Has Left Us Alone's centerpiece, the consistent mood and musical elements hold all eight tracks together as one sustained work.
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