Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Release date: 14 August 1997
"It's hard to articulate today just how alien this record felt back in 1997. Even at a time when Tortoise was normalizing the concept of extended, abstract post-rock movements and Mogwai was mastering the art of crushing crescendos, the debut album from Godspeed You Black Emperor! still sounded like nothing of its era, or of its planet for that matter. The packaging for F# A# ∞'s original vinyl issue—the mournful black-and-white photo pasted to the paper sleeve, the cryptic blueprint-like liner notes and crushed coin contained in a sealed dossier—only seemed to amplify the enigmatic eeriness and disorienting dread emanating from the album's string-swept mélange of industrialized drones, field recordings, and desolate twang. " – Pitchfork
"[E]xistential Morricone-esque soundscapes, wrought by desolate guitar twang, echoey dobro slide, sweetly mournful violin and cello, and an astonishingly patient rhythm section." – Magnet
"An album of soothing, repetitious beauty." – NME
"A slow soundtrack of regret and desire, equal parts morose and expectant." – Exclaim
"Soundbites cascade eerily into gentle dirges with no static beginning or end, weaving in and around each other. Musical building blocks are artfully constructed into a greater whole, which is fragile, yet steady in its precision." – Stylus
"A moody, atmospheric, romantic soundtrack for contemporary urban decay… Created with classical acoustic instruments (violin, cello, guitar, drums) using distortion, the harmonics that ride the swell of coloured noise on the opening track are richer and fuller than could ever be achieved by purely electronic means." – Hour Magazine
"Godspeed create some of the most emotionally charged music this side of The Dirty Three." – The Wire
F# A# ∞ was recorded at the original Hotel2Tango in spring 1997 on a rented 16-track tape deck and supplemented with various field recordings. In the preceding year, the band had taken shape as a quasi-orchestral outfit involving most of the players that would go on to make three more records and tour the world many times. This is the first recorded document of Godspeed as a large band and is soaring, fragile, awkward, heartbreaking stuff. Constellation released a vinyl-only pressing of 500 copies in August 1997, with LP jackets hand made by the label, the band, and various local artisans. It has since gone through dozens of re-presses, with virtually all of the original packaging elements preserved. The opening monologue on Side One ("Dead Flag Blues") is taken from Incomplete Movie About Jail, an unfinished film by Efrim.
LP jacket made from 80lb. burgundy textured uncoated cardstock with blind embossed front cover text. Three different front cover images (train, water tower, highway lights) are hand-glued on the front cover (original first run of 500 featured black and white darkroom prints; subsequent editions are offset printed). Back covers are individually hand-drawn with illuminated cross icon and catalogue number and are hand-stamped with Constellation logo; all in silver ink. Inserts include a penny crushed on Montreal railroad tracks, blueprint album graphic and notes, credit sheet and reproduction of an early GY!BE show handbill - all placed inside a plain manila envelope (original first run of 500 featured acetone transfers hand-printed on each envelope). Additional 8"x8" insert card of train locomotive image silkscreened in various colours on various recycled papers over the years.
Aidan (drums), Bruce (drums), Christophe (violin), David (guitar), Efrim (guitar), Mauro (bass), Moya (guitar, banjo), Norsola (cello), Thea (french horn), Thierry (bass).