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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Silver Mt. Zion album does more with less

    Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

    Kollaps Tradixionales

    Constellation Records

    Released Feb. 16, 2010

    Grade: B+


    Canadian band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra continue their modus operandi of evolution in small movements with Kollaps Tradixionales, the group’s sixth album. With each name change — the band began in 2000 as A Silver Mt. Zion — comes a change in their lineup. Yet the three core members, Efrim Menuck, Thierry Amar and Sophie Trudeau, remain to preserve the band’s post-rock sound.

    As in previous albums and in their other band, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Thee Silver Mt. Zion pushes and pulls the listener during songs that emanate desperate urgency. On Kollaps Tradixionales, Efrim’s vocals are more prominent and not as buried under previous sonic landscapes, which ranged from harsh squalls of sound to the looping of gentle piano chords. The 15-minute opening track, “”There is a Light,”” finds the singer sounding vulnerable against a melancholic waltz composed of electric guitar, violin and drums.

    “”I Built Myself a Metal Bird”” picks up the tempo from there to take on a menacing tone that gets its best moments when Trudeau’s violin cuts through the buzzing guitar. “”I Fed My Metal Bird the Wings of Other Metal Birds”” opens with a few cleansing minutes of spare instrumentation before building up to a coda that revisits the musical theme of “”I Built Myself.””

    The next three tracks, “”Kollapz Tradixional (Thee Olde Dirty Flag),”” “”Collapse Traditional”” and “”Kollaps Tradicional (Bury 3 Dynamos),”” form a suite that counterbalances the previous songs. Its first movement is laden with mournful strings and Efrim’s vocals that strain at the top of his range. The second movement provides a short interlude before “”Kollaps Tradicional”” crescendoes to a slow, loping ending that recalls the best of math rock band Chavez. Kollaps Tradixionales ends with “”‘Piphany Rambler,”” a 14-minute song that recalls earlier Silver Mt. Zion with its guitar feedback lurking in the background. It drones and morphs into an all-out musical assault that finds a delicate balance between each instrument.

    While post-rock may not possess the same cultural power as it did when millennial fears and tensions called for artistic expression, bands such as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra nevertheless have continued to tread their own musical paths, creating complexity from simplicity. Those who pay attention and notice the clues left behind will find their patience rewarded at the end.

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