Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

We live on an island called Montreal, and we make a lot of noise because we love each other…

So begins Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything, the outstanding seventh full-length from the Canadian experimental/art rock collective currently known as Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra (they’ve also released albums under the names A Silver Mt. Zion and The Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, among others). Perhaps best known as one of the many offshoots of Godspeed You! Black Emperor—the group’s co-founders Efram Menuck (guitar/piano/vocals), Theirry Amar (bass/vocals), and Sophie Trudeau (violin/vocals) are longtime members of GY!BE—Silver Mount Zion deftly manages the difficult task of mining similar musical territory as their main band while having a distinct identity of their own.
(Just a side note here: if you’ve never heard Godspeed You! Black Emperor, you need to drop everything and go listen to Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven right now. It’s streaming on Spotify. I don’t even know where to start trying to describe how amazing that album is. This might sound a little crazy, but I love it so much that when I die I want to be buried with my copy of it. Seriously.)
Now I’m not going to spend this entire review comparing Silver Mount Zion to GY!BE, but since Meneuk, Trudeau, and Amar play such a large role in both bands it’s difficult not to. The biggest difference between the bands is that Silver Mount Zion is a much more song-oriented band than Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Where GY!BE creates 20+ minute sound collages that intersperse studio recordings with live pieces, field recordings, and lengthy (and frequently very political) audio samples in lieu of vocals, Silver Mount Zion writes songs that are still very long—three of the six tracks on Fuck Off Get Free clock in at over ten minutes—but have recognizable verse and chorus sections that one can actually sing along with, making them slightly more accessible than Godspeed.
That’s not to say, however, that the band doesn’t cover a lot of musical ground on this album. Opener “Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island of Montreal)” starts off as noisy post-rock, morphs into something that sounds like a cross between the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and then ends with a section reminiscent of some of the mellower moments on twin violin-driven doom metal band SubRosa’s No Help For the Mighty Ones. “Austerity Blues” goes from freak folk to a very Velvet Underground-esque guitar and violin drone and then back out again. “Take Away These Early Grave Blues” sounds like an outtake from the Cure’s Pornography with vaguely Middle Eastern violin melody played over the top. “Little Ones Run” is a short, straightforward piano-and-upright bass song with an almost lullaby-like feel. “What We Loved is Not Enough,’ an unsettlingly uplifting song about children dying because of global warming that is probably my favorite track on the album, almost has a blue-eyed soul vibe to it, but with fuzzed-out bass, slightly discordant violins, and a pair of excellent noisy yet oddly lyrical guitar solos that remind me of something from a 90’s Neil Young and Crazy Horse album.
On paper, this all probably sounds like a really strange mix—and, honestly, it kind of is a strange mix—but one of the strengths of Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra is that they manage to blend all of these styles into a seamless whole. Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything could have easily been an unlistenable mess; instead, it’s an engaging and incredibly rewarding listen that I cannot recommend highly enough. 

- Clayton Michaels