He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms may be one of this year's most beautiful albums. On it, A Silver Mt. Zion (three members of acclaimed Montreal art-rock collective Godspeed You Black Emperor!) test and prove the theorem that opposites do not just attract, they engage. Fear, boldness. Shadowy, revealed. Atonality, harmonics. Portent, hope. Defiance, capitulation. Minimalism, apocalypse.
A Silver Mt. Zion - Efrim, Thierry and Sophie, the absence of last names feels like a homily to listeners to leave their piety at the door - weave their magic by paring down the Godspeed You Black Emperor! sound to sparse piano chords, haunting violin and tape samples. But if the parts of this music are simple to pick out, the experience of the whole is an indivisible sonic symphony.
Recorded in the dead of winter in a huge loft in Montreal's Mile-End, it's an easy stretch to imagine the band rehearsing for the record, and drawing inspiration from the desolate whine of trains plying the nearby tracks. There are, of course, no train sounds on this record. What the record is filled with instead is an overpowering sense of the frozen distance the trains travelled, and, by suggestion, the need of the human heart for connection.
Lee Chung Horn
It's music for introspection but also music for hope. Listen. Ecoute (note to self: that needs an accent; note to others: my French is not as good as it could be).