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Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Kollaps Tradixionales

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Kollaps Tradixionales

Release Date:2010

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra plays the Ottobar May 18.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 5/12/2010

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra wastes no time shooting into orbit. It rockets there with the lead riff on the second track of its sixth album, Kollaps Tradixionales. And over that piercing guitar chug and a locomotive rhythmic thrust singer/guitarist Efrim Menuck sing/screams the opening verse to "I Built Myself a Metal Bird," a line of confounding robotic alchemy--"I built my self a metal bird/ I fed my metal bird the wings of other metal birds." It's a dizzying roadmap for where the music and lyrics are headed: Sophie Trudeau's and Jessica Moss' violins soon trace lilting curlicues and apprehensive heartbeats behind the forward motion, investing the song with a heightened tension. The lyrics are four sets of almost identical lines repeated twice, each a snapshot of indelible imagery, such as "Our burnt little dreams are hid/ up where the stars get lit." Drummer David Payant and bassist Thierry Amar push this rustling tide forward with lissome insistence. And for just over six minutes "Metal Bird" soars like a phoenix.

It's the sort of orchestral rock this unit--through many names and members--has churned out since Amar, Menuck, and Trudeau loosely formed the band in 1999. Of course, Godspeed You! Black Emperor casts an inescapable shadow over everything its members--including those three--ever do. And from its 2000 debut on Zion's pastoral, dynamic, and bleak beauty has always felt like variations on Godspeed's instrumental monoliths, music as a haunting form of sonic protest against all forms of postmodern complacency and unquestioning minds. Zion, though, has lately evolved into a tad more traditional band, in as much as its songs could have lyrics and something like familiar structures. And its members' recent collaborations with such singer/songwriter auteurs as the late Vic Chesnutt and Carla Bozulich feels to have tightened the band's own songwriting techniques. Kollaps certainly delves into Zion's pendulous quiet-to-loud swells ("Kollapz Tradixional," the plush closer "'Piphany Rambler"), but some of the album's finest moments arrive in writerly flourishes. "Collapse Traditional (For Darling)" is a one-minute- and-change love song in a Dirty Three-mode with floating lullaby lyrics, while "Kollaps Tradicional (Bury 3 Dynamos)" circles through multiple cycles of seduction and anarchy during its nearly seven-minute march. Kollaps may land mere glancing blows as often as knockouts, but those KOs land with stunning force.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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