The Surprising Positivity of Luciferian Towers

A new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album? Bloody great news, can’t wait to tear down capitalism with the force of a thousand cacophonous instruments melding together to punch a gaping hole in my subwoofer!

Adding up all the indicators since GY!BE’s return in 2012, this is the first and best prediction of what the new album would sound like (albeit a tongue-in-cheek presentation). The pinging of strings cascading like a thousand tiny Tactical Ballistic Missiles on ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’s opener ‘Mladic’; the steady march of drums and strung out notes that wobbled yet gained more strength as they went on from Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ ‘Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’’ and most of all the FUCKING TITLE of this new album: Luciferian Towers – all signs pointed towards a formula that works every time: slow, loud, and proud.

Yet the opener on Luciferian Towers feels less immediate than pretty much every other opener on previous albums, which is initially a little disappointing. All the excitement leading up to that fantastical first listen falls flat when you hear a track that by all means should be, and would fit perfectly in the middle of the album. It’s not an issue with the track per se, just a slightly odd place to place it.

The rest of the album does flow exactly as you’d it expect it to, but as the non-linear concept of time-while-listening-to-GY!BE meanders, there’s yet another oddity, and this is perhaps the game-changer: on the whole, the album feels positive. GY!BE are not known for being a happy bunch (as the words ‘nervous, sad, poor’ etched into the vinyl on their debut F♯ Amight indicate), but Luciferian Towers is radically far-removed from the cars on fire, curtains drawn, end of days nihilism we’re used to.

The Asunder tour was accompanied by dizzying images of cities burning, towers falling and the distinct absence of humanity, and it was a perfect visual representation of GY!BE’s anarchical bombardment of government, capitalism and society. Luciferian Towers on the other hand would be better represented by smatterings of humanitarian communities dousing those flames and rebuilding shelters. Considering the current socio-political climate, it’s an album that (in typical GY!BE style) accurately portrays the world as it is right now.

North Korean missiles fly over Hokkaido, a tangerine baby threatens to destroy countries and communities unbelievably with the power to actually do so, actual towers burning demonstrating the complete disdain for the poor and the huge gulf between classes in Britain, horrific natural disasters striking, all of this means we’re all feeling really fucking lost right now. We don’t have the energy to bring tyrants to justice.

What Luciferian Towers seems to bring in these dark times is a message of hope, a message to start with the basics of being human – being kind to those in need, giving support to those who deserve it – and then we can begin to take down the demons that plague human existence. Greed and apathy can be challenged and overthrown. But we need the support of each other to do so, and now is the time to come together.

It’s corroborated by the accompanying press release from GY!BE which included a list of ‘grand demands’:

  • an end to foreign invasions
  • an end to borders
  • the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex
  • healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right
  • the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again

As the screeching guitar on ‘Anthem For No State, Pt. III’ wanes, a Spaghetti Western guitar twangs over the dissonance, a triumphant theme for what could be. It makes for a brilliant final flourish to end this album on a rabble-rousing, defiant note, unlike any other GY!BE album before.

Much like the finale on the album, their list of demands was bookended by a positive: “much love to all the other lost and wondering ones, xoxoxox god’s pee / montréal / 4 juillet, 2017x”

If this band can make room for positivity in 2017 while all else goes to shit, we’ve all got to give it a bloody good try.

Nathan Butler

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