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Octet Brings Darkness to the Ogden

NATIONAL BAND FLAUNTS SYMPHONIC SOUND

There has been a lot of speculation and mystery surrounding the Canadian post-rock octet Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The band started in 1994, traversing through a multitude of tours, hiatuses, and breakups. Although the group has never emerged from the alternative music scene to the mainstream, they still have an immense and loyal fan base. Since the release of their album Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress last year, the group has initiated a tour and gave an enthralling performance on Monday, Feb. 8 at the Ogden Theatre.

The stage of the Ogden was littered with instruments, speakers, chords, and intricate pedal setups. With only a few red lights to illuminate the stage, the crowd restlessly released a few coaxing cries.

The crowd’s feverish haste was relieved once the violinist, Sophie Trudeau, and cellist, Norsola Johnson, began creating soft ambient tones with the strings they have clearly mastered. Shortly after, the remaining six members entered the stage, picking up their instruments and joining their band mates’ melody, as if it was their fluent language.

The beauty of Godspeed is its very formulaic, yet natural approach to music. Much like classical music, the group’s sound seemed to grow in intensity, mimicking the crescendo of a classical score.

The octet seamlessly shifted between lighter guitar and drum kicks, reminiscent of a sort of post-modern lullaby, to darker and heavier strings and drums more appropriate for a rock show. The band’s talent is devised through its ability to create this shifting of moods and tones while still creating a perfect balance.

The unexpected choreography of the octet’s stage presence and performance is indicative of an orchestra, but one that needs no conductor, for the members seemed to conduct themselves—as well as each other—in perfect harmony. There were no breaks in between songs, with the usual change in guitars or typical stage banter between members, but a constant flow of music that the audience observed with admiration and tranquil stillness. Each member knew his or her role in the orchestra and, with that, they created their own version of the symphony.

The symphonic nature of the group’s music and the inherent balance of darkness and lightness is a component of music and life that the band seems to deeply understand, which is what makes its work so visceral and emotional.

Godspeed is a group of individuals who are able to create a story with their music. There is a feeling of darkness humans know all too well that Godspeed has somehow made palpable. The band’s exclusively melodic interactions lead its audience down a path of utter malaise and complete euphoria, an intrinsic balance that seems to hold the band and the audience together.

—Sarai Nissan

Above: Godspeed’s dark sound brings orchestral vibes to Denver.

photo: Sarai Nissan • CU Denver Sentry

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