Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Kollaps Tradixionales
Craig Broad 21/12/2009
The pursuit of happiness in music can often be a difficult journey, especially if you find yourself with ideas that perhaps don't fit with your current band, a band who at the time were as popular as any other post-rock band, often on the lips of many cult fans, name dropping at every opportunity. That band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor were probably at the height of their powers in 1999 when guitarist Efrim Menuck decided that he needed a different outlet, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, and his decision along with two other members of GY!BE to split their time between the two creative forces probably led to the indefinite hiatus of GY!BE in 2003. While with their initial release, Silver Mt. Zion only seemed to confirm fans fears that Menuck was a one trick pony and we were all better left with GY!BE, they slowly grew into their own niche, moving away from the vocal-less and often frustratingly long and silent styling of GY!BE and into a place that fans still described as post-rock but different and something that they could appreciate in a different mindset.
"Kollaps Tradixionales" is the sixth album release for Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra on influential independent label, Constellation. Within seconds of opening track "There Is A Light" you instantly sense there has been a closure from past albums and experiences with said track building its punk folk sound with beautiful understated violin work behind crashing drums, violent guitar work and vocals howled often in a painful out of tune fashion....but it works especially in the third movement of the song, the quietest of the three thus causing Menuck to sing at a higher and frail sounding pitch with female vocals behind, offering a touch of vulnerability and emotion. "I Built Myself A Metal Bird" is more immediate than anything I've heard Menuck involved with before, based around a rousing distorted guitar melody as Menuck howls repetitively like the Blood Brothers vocalists. Propelled by steady drumming that never wavers throughout the whole track and at six minutes long, with definite structures, this is probably as close as Silver Mt. Zion will ever get to writing a pop song. Its follow up, "I Fed My Metal Bird The Wings Of Other Metal Birds" while being the second part of "I Built Myself A Metal Bird", is a completely different monster. Based around the more orchestral musicians in the band, it is an eerie six minute song that doesn't really get going until the four minute mark but once it does, it harks back to the moments we all appreciated in Godspeed You! Black Emperors back catalogue without giving you the feeling that it is being rehashed.
That pretty much sums it all up for "Kollaps Tradixionales". It is different enough for you to not judge it against the members past but at the same time, the best parts are the ones that rekindle that past. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestras strength ahead of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and any band of that ilk, is that they are versatile. They are happy to do songs in movements but there aren't huge sections of silence or filler that you are wishing away to get yourself to the beautiful parts like you would with other post rock records. On top of that, they have a drummer who completely drives every track on the album, who knows exactly what is too much and exactly when he isn't needed at all and that along with some of the violin work is what makes this release worth listening to.
If we want to look on the other side of the coin though, this is still inaccessible and to the untrained ear, this will be complete noise. The elitists will love it as they always do but this will not have Silver Mt. Zion breaking into any ground that they haven't already treaded in terms of their fan base and this isn't a release that I can see myself going back to frequently listen to no matter how much I appreciate it while I listen.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra Myspace