A Silver Mt. Zion... post rock perfection - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-27-2004, 04:59 PM   #1
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A Silver Mt. Zion... post rock perfection

I saw this wonderful wonderful band live last saturday in Hamilton. They're now on their way to Europe, and they're playing pretty much every where there (at least western europe) so if you can possible see this band, I highly highly recommend it.. no matter your musical tastes.. here's a review i wrote up:

I was standing at the side of the stage, about 4 feet away. The opener was some guy, not sure of his name. He started off by playing a little chord pattern on his guitar, and then made it loop and went on to add other guitar textures, hit things rhythmically, add a little bassy synthesizer to the mix, and hit his guitar with toothbrushes for a bit, add some harmonics and other effects here and there; then eventually it all subsided. It was a very impressive performance especially for one man to create, and left me wondering what it would be like to see six people doing similar sorts of things.

When The Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band took the stage, I noticed there were actually seven members. 3 guys on guitar one of whom was lead singer, and one who sometimes did drums and once did mandolin, one guy on stand up bass (the kind with bowing and some plucking), 2 girls on violin, and one on cello. They all looked rather French, and, being from Montreal, smoked quite a lot (I really wish I had some pictures, but I didn't think to bring my camera). The first song they played was The Triumph of our Tired Eyes, and the harmonics of the guitars sounded brilliant. That's about when I became completely enchanted with the music. As the first song started building, and adding harmonic layers, I was stunned by the beauty of it. I almost started tearing up I was so taken with it.

These people are very political, and although it's not at all overt in the music, I got the feeling I totally understood where they were coming from. They are highly against many questionable facets of our society like globalization, corporations, consumerism, and the loss of public space. There is something very raw and basic about their music that makes it feel honest, and very important. It is a curious combination of rock music and classical or orchestral work. But more than anything, I thought of it as very tribal. The music seemed to be a cry for action, not necessarily to some higher being, but to everyone. The patterns of sound built texture upon texture and gradually rose and fell. It felt very primal. And when the voices began they formed marvellous harmonies, delicate female voices contrasted with deep man voices, sometimes singing completely different things, sometimes the same… that was a very profound thing, something that doesn't carry over nearly as well in the recordings. I was sort of reminded of McLuhan's rambling about the retribalization of society that he foresaw way back in the day.

It was a great concert, profound and transecendent even. The only downfalls were that I kept thinking how many awesome pictures I could have been taking, and also how some people thought they had some pretty interesting things to talk about during the songs. The slow, gentle parts of the songs were very lovely and I couldn't understand how someone would think their own voice had a better acoustic presence.

I put up some mp3s of their songs on me website.. check 'em out:

Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band - The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes from Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward (2001)
Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band with Choir - American Motor Over Smoldered Field from This Is Our Punk-Rock, Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing (2003)

They are much better live though, imo.

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Old 01-27-2004, 10:35 PM   #2
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I've heard tons about them from my friend

I'll have to look into them

consequently, one of the guy from mount zion plays in Broken Social Scene as well

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Old 01-27-2004, 10:50 PM   #3
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Originally posted by Basstrap
one of the guy from mount zion plays in Broken Social Scene as well
Really? I did not know. that's wicked!
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Old 01-28-2004, 11:57 AM   #4
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What a great review. I can listen to A Silver Mt Zion over and over again (I have their second album). It's very moving music and I totally get what you say about understanding where they're coming from even when there are no words. imho, the words on this album I have don't work because it sounds trite next to the beautiful sounds. For eg, that poem that he sings about killing all the bankers and televising the rape of kings etc. It just doesn't work when he opens his mouth and the music was fine without it. I would love to see them live like you did; I'm sure it was awesome. - foray
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Old 01-28-2004, 02:14 PM   #5
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I was not very familiar with their studio recordings when I saw them (Now I've been listening to them almost non-stop). I have to say I thought the lyrics actually worked very well live.. there's just something about Efrim's delivery when you can see him. Plus when they are all singing together, it's beautiful, all the harmonies and everything. There was one song (not sure which, this wasn't on the album version of whichever song it was) where at the end some people were singing something like "hold on to each other" and others were singing "any fucking thing you love". It was very effective, I thought. Then again, while it was really good with the lyrics, I guess I don't know for sure whether it would have been even better without them

Here is their upcoming tourdates... they're going to be pretty busy it seems:

02-01 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rosa
02-02 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rosa
02-16 Hamburg, Germany - Schlachthof
02-17 Aarhus, Denmark - Vox Hall
02-18 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
02-19 Berlin, Germany - Magnet
02-20 Utrecht, Netherlands - Tivoli
02-21 Diksmuide, Belgium - 4AD
02-22 Tourcoing, France - Le Grand Mix
02-24 London, England - Scala
02-25 London, England - Scala
02-26 Paris, France - L'echangeur
02-27 Paris, France - L'echangeur
02-28 Bordeaux, France - Theatre Jean Vilar
02-29 Bilbao, Spain - Cafˇ Anchokia
03-02 Madrid, Spain - Arena
03-03 Barcelona, Spain - Bikini
03-05 Montpelier, France - TBA
03-06 Lyon, France - TBA
03-07 Geneva, Switzerland - L'usine
03-09 Zurich, Switzerland - Rote Fabrik
03-10 Colmar, France - Le Grillen
03-11 Nancy, France - TBA
03-13 Athens, Greece - TBA
03-15 Brussels, Belgium - Ancienne
03-16 Luxembourg City, Luxembourg- Kulturfabrik
03-17 Eindhoven, Netherlands - Eefenaar
03-18 Groningen, Netherlands - Vera
03-19 Cologne, Germany - Gebaude 9
03-20 Haarlem, Netherlands - Patronaat
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