Godspeed You Black Emperor! - F♯A♯∞ (1997), 7/10

To address the most common criticisms of F♯A♯∞ and post-rock in general, I would like to briefly point out that borrowing from different genres and movements, even an ethos of simplicity and sparse melody rather than hyper-complexity in compositional structure, is not a purely negative characteristic of music and is not a valid critique, even an ignorant one that shows comically obvious bias towards an ironically even more pretentious subset of music. Some of Godspeed’s music could be considered overly melodramatic, but F♯A♯∞ has a uniquely balanced approach to its narrative that never falls prey to this weakness. Moving on. While I am fully onboard and understand the allure of Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven!, I would rather listen to F♯A♯∞ most days, perhaps it is just a more satisfyingly cold piece of music. The sheer amount of vulnerable, anxious emotion poured out of these moments and their consistently moving crescendos, all during a brief thirty-eight minutes, is astonishing. The album itself is a grand gesture to the surreal landscapes in our disparaged world, a beautifully dark depiction of desperation and isolation. It has an impressive array of motifs, something that again separates it from the band’s later work. Sometimes lying among these simply arranged apocalyptic and brooding atmospheric soundscapes is enough to usher in a flood of emotion. All of that aside, I don’t think the album is perfect, far from it, as its approach to performance can be jarringly varied from each different movement, sometimes even wholly questionable. The story, however, moves along quickly enough to leave these moments behind and explore the next theme before its momentum is lost. With an open mind, it can be quite the experience and a refreshingly effortless approach to atmospheric rock music.