A low hum is the first thing heard. It's nearly an inaudible sound, like the opening of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Soon other instruments join and overlap: strings, guitar, and glockenspiel. For a while, the listener hovers in a mist feeling the musical waves ebb and flow, warning of impending danger. In these moments, uncertainty breeds and devours the weak, swallowing them whole. This is probably Mile End, the location alluded to in the liner notes of the Canadian ensemble Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada. Mile End is described in detail, and the influence of this locale on the recording of the Slow Riot must have been immense. In fact, the best way to describe this album is as a direct result of Mile End's setting: the abandoned buildings, haunting forest, burned out railroad cars, and empty train tracks. All of these physical images pervade the tone of this album: they are its sadness, beauty, and anger. The darkness is there too. Once immersed in Mile End, it's near impossible to find your way out. The darkness limits your freedom, and at the same time hides you from the rest of the world. You are alone and it is both frightening and liberating. As for the music, there's really not much to say. If this description of Mile End appeals to you or intrigues you then it will be a worthwhile listen. "Moya," the album's first piece, is a lot like weathering a torrential downpour: torn between moments of uncertainty a final deluge occurs absorbing everything in its path. The second piece, "BBF3," is a history lesson set to music, a story of dysfunctional government, militias, and human rights. This one album spans the emotions of terror and delight in 30 minutes. The same feelings of fear and triumph found in Beethoven can be found here, and there is perhaps no better endorsement for such music.
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AllMusic Review by Marc Gilman