thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra & tra-la-la band- horses in the sky

.:: While some still think of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band as an offshoot of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (the group shares both membership and label affiliation), the group has certainly cultivated an aesthetic that is related to but distinct from their sister group. Whereas GYBE tends toward creating accumulative compositions that start softly and build to thrilling, roaring climaxes, Thee Silver Mt. Zion (for short) often emphasizes group singing in addition to towering and slow-building arrangements. Constellation artists are often politically progressive in their sympathies, and thus are probably frustrated as hell after the reelection of George Bush. While this is certainly evident in the lyrical themes dealt with by the band, there is also an exhilarated quality evident on Horses In The Sky that correlates with Thee Silver's clear enthusiasm for collective music-making.

"God Bless Our Dead Marines" (three guesses from which war) features Eastern-flavored dance music, a sardonic satire that combines whimsy and acid commentary all in one. "Teddy Roosevelt's Guns" is a standout track. It features one of my favorite articles from Silver Mt. Zion's bag of tricks, a long call and response vocal canon. The instrumental arrangement is also deftly planned, almost orchestral in design. It begins slowly and then swells to a yawping culmination; distorted guitars and thunderous drums accompany Efrim Menuck's plaintive wailing to an emotionally charged conclusion. "Mountains Made of Steam" also begins chorally, only to have voices replaced by a squalling storm of electric guitar. The title track is more reserved, featuring a delicately hued arrangement that is considerably attractive.

While the message is still portentous on "Ring Them Bells, Freedom has Come and Gone," one can't help but feel an ecstatic revelry in this extended and expansive composition. Soaring guitars, dancing instrumental passages, emotive singing, and a feedback-drenched coda makes this a fitting conclusion to a compelling album. --Christian Carey

The band says: We recorded some of it next to a campfire by the river, and the sleepy birds even chirped a little there beneath the moonlit trees; "yes we are oh yes we are thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra and tra-la-la band"... troubled fingers strive to knit upward ladders, joyously; THESE SONGS ARE STICKY, WORRIED KNOTS--- everyone sang and handclapped too---(we learned to play these songs on the road mostly...)

"THIS IS OUR TORCHED ESTATES" = 6 busted "waltzes" for world wars 4 thru 6, or the sound of our nervous unit collapsing across sing-song eruptions of anxious light and clumsy heat, "mysteryandwonder, messy hearts made of thunder," tape recordered at thee mighty hotel2tango for all the GENTLE dreamers to cradle or discard... the politics of it is just love thy neighbour mostly, or heartbroken temper tantrums for grumpy refusers, or saucy anthems for all the stubborn dumbass resistance cadres maybe...(first song's about war and drug addiction, fourth song's about kanada, and the rest of it is all love songs trulytrulytruly...) the indignant critics amongst us should note that as usual there's more questions than answers here, more complaints than solutions, and at times the group singing is a little out of tune; the name of the record is "horses in the sky", and we thank you all for still listening

download: thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra & tra-la-la band- horses in the sky


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