I uncovered this album after watching one of my favorite films, the zombie thriller “28 Days Later.” If you’ve seen the movie think back to the haunting scene of Jim walking around an abandoned, ravaged London. What made that scene particularly enjoyable was the song that played while Jim ran about the city searching for a sign of life.
The track used turned out to be “East Hastings” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. While the film only uses a snippet, the entire song is almost 18 minutes long. Consisting of a mere three songs, F♯ A♯ ∞ (or “F Sharp A Sharp Infinity) still comes in at over an hour long. The first track is just over 16 minutes, the second is not quite 18, and the final song clocks in at nearly 30 minutes. After listening to just a sample of “East Hastings,” I was inspired to download the whole album.Luckily, it did not disappoint.
F♯ A♯ ∞ is more akin to a movie than a collection of songs. Largely instrumental, the tracks feature snippets of speech. I say speech rather than lyrics because the vocals are spoken, not sung, and although there is not a clear plot, they invoke a post-apocalyptic storyline. “Dead Flag Blues,” the first track, sets the tone for the rest of the album. The song begins with a man saying “The car’s on fire and there’s no driver at the wheel/And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides/And a dark wind blows/The government is corrupt/And we’re on so many drugs/With the radio on and the curtains drawn.” I think you get the point. The message of decay is pretty clear. Instrumentally, the track expands and elaborates the portrait painted by the opening speech. Musically, the album evolves with distinct movements within each song. During “Dead Flag Blues,” there is one section which sounds almost like distant trains, but soon it switches to a twangy Western theme which brings to mind a handful of Clint Eastwood flicks.
“East Hastings” follows up with a preacher talking amid sounds of traffic, and a melody of bagpipes. The preacher fades and the song oozes into life. It starts pretty slow and warbling, but gradually picks up adding layers of instrumentation and around the 9 minute mark reaches a crescendo. When it does calm down the music assumes a plinky sound that changes to a siren noise and eventually builds up to emulate a fly buzzing.
Rounding off the album is the half hour “Providence.” Like the previous tracks it too features some post-apocalyptic words. Again it is somber and reflects the tone of the album. I strongly suggest, as I have for several other albums I’ve reviewed, that you give it a full listen in one sitting. It is best to avoid multi-tasking while checking this one out as I think the atmospheric words and music require you to zone out and imagine some sort of corresponding story. F♯ A♯ ∞ is available for purchase from iTunes and Amazon, as well as free streaming on Grooveshark.