A Silver Mt. Zion / Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

Kollaps Tradixionales

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The sixth album from the many-monikered incarnations of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (with another slight name change) offers a renewed sense of purpose in the studio after personnel changes pared the group down to a quintet. Along with founding members guitarist/lead vocalist Efrim Menuck, violinist Sophie Trudeau, and contrabassist Thierry Amar, are Dave Payant on drums, organ, and piano, and violinist Jessica Moss. Longtime fans are in for a shock on “There Is a Light,” the 15-minute opening track. Menuck's quavering vocals are looser, less concerned with pitch than ever before. It begins as a slow, mournful balladic waltz with electric guitar, and strings lilting underneath his voice. (For some reason, though we’ve heard it before, it takes some getting used to for a couple of minutes here.) It feels like a hymn, and his lyrics exhort even as they grieve; they're punctuated at the three-minute mark with horns; then, at four minutes, the tune begins its lift-off, becoming a dramatic, expansive rock paean with TSMZMO's trademark dynamics and complex textures rising and falling numerous times before the song concludes with everyone singing as a choir, unfettered. “I Built Myself a Metal Bird” is a full-on Stooges-like rocker, with raging guitars, drums, and Menuck's vocal swaggering on the front edge. It’s followed by “I Fed My Metal Bird the Wings of Other Metal Birds,” a six-minute coda that begins haltingly and then explodes into full-on prog rock dynamism. The title track -- with three different title variations -- is a three-part, 13-minute suite that ranges from faltering experimentalism to a punishing, transcendent, rockist power play by its finale. The set closes with the 14-minute monolith “’Piphany Rambler,” that ushers itself in as a droning, mutant slide guitar and organ blues before beginning the first of its many mutations (some of them with horns), eventually ending as a blown-out, wasted anthemic elegy. This is another chapter in the sonic evolution that began with the name A Silver Mt. Zion, and contains many more dimensions, layers, and textures. It pushes harder and further with much less, yet comes across as no less raggedly and poetically majestic.

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