First thing’s first: The full name’s “Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band,” but the kindly Montreal posse seen previously on LOST don’t mind if you use SMZ shorthand. Still, it’s fitting that a many-peopled band with such epic tunes would want a name with all that syllabic presence. (Remember, certain members are also in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, another pack fond of largess.) Moniker aside, SMZ’s new album 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons is a beaut. It opens with a dozen brief tracks — 5 to 11 second tonal rings — before you get to the real meat: Four 13-plus minute angry, soothing blends of booming orchestrations, wicked psychedelia, and folksy constructions via two guitars, two violins, cello, contrebasse, drums, scrap metal, and barreling, choired voices. It possesses the dynamic range we’ve come to expect from the crew, but bigger. On the album standout “Black Waters Blowed,” Efrim Menuck’s mesmerizing intonations start off pastoral before lifting into ragged, sweet bellows: “I found a penny where the black waters blow — / A dagger, a crown, or a home in the snow / And scraps, soil, and sentries for the children below / There’s ones that are liars and ones that don’t know.” Then it rips open.
[Photo by Mark Slutsky]
Silver Mt. Zion – Black Waters Blowed (Edit)” (MP3)
It’s like they’re pontificating a protest before a congregation: “The gallows were hungry and tawdry and slow / and fists full of candy for the children below.” Shivers. So great when everyone starts singing along. And when the guitars blow up. The sense of impending apocalypse is spread across 13 Moons, but this track’s where it boils most gorgeously. Keep in mind, this is a seven and a half minute edit from the 13 minute original. Uncut, it moves into the “Engine Broke Blues” half of the song, a stretch that oddly hits like the Pogues doing punk balladry. Just as riveting.
13 Blues For Thirteen Moons is out 3/25 on Constellation.