Those who are familiar with Constellation Records and its output will no doubt have heard of the incredible Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and of course understand the significance the hold in the history of the label itself. This, their debut record (not including the legendary unheard cassette tape All Lights Fucked On The Hairy Amp Drooling), perfectly encapsulates the fragile yet commanding presence the band hold. To listen to this album is to be perfectly pulled into a post-apocalyptic world where everything is uncertain and harrowing, and yet amongst all the rubble, destruction and chaos, there is something oddly beautiful.
It should be noted that this review looks at the vinyl edition of the album, and whilst it does feature an array of intriguing and mysterious inserts (from crushed pennies to pictures of trains), absent is the incredible track “Providence”, the bonus track featured on the Kranky CD version. However, one doesn’t need the track to really get the full experience of ‘F#A#∞‘. If anything, the CD version is more lacking as it doesn’t have the run-off groove that creates the ultimate drone track. (It is called F#A#∞ for a reason!)
‘F#A#∞’ is one of those albums I’ll always remember the first time I ever sat down to listen to it. At the time, I was around 15-16, and interested in checking out post-rock music. I happened upon Godspeed You Black Emperor, and was intrigued by the monolithic lengths of their songs. When discussing music with people, they seem to be surprised about the fact that Godspeed’s tracks are well over 10-15 minutes in length for the most part. I can’t envision it any other way though. Listening to the band isn’t a chore, but a musical odyssey that transports one through a dystopian landscape of fear and caution, with just the slightest hints of hope peering in through darkened grey clouds.
The album is perhaps more sparse than future Godspeed releases, which arguably see more of an emphasis on the chugging power of music itself. But here, that more delicate side of Godspeed results in something truly wonderful. It’s truly harrowing at times, and there’s a beauty in that if it’s your kind of thing. It’s albums like this that make the post-rock genre one that is so interesting, and listening to albums like these again can help rekindle those feelings of why you fell in love with the genre in the first place. Maybe it’s due to the fact that there’s nobody quite like Godspeed. Some bands try, but few have even come close to matching their output.