Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band – Horses in the sky

‘They put angels in the electric chair’ sings Efrim mournfully on the first track of the new
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band record, called ‘Horses in the sky’. Cynically as ever, the track is called ‘God bless our dead marines’, undoubtedly a reference to the situation in Iraq. Never afraid to be socially committed, Efrim chants his complaints as he did in his former act Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the band now put in the closet for a while.

There are however, a lot of differences between GYBE and TSMZMO. First of all, there is the almost continuous singing of Efrim, a lot of times supported by the other members singing as a choir. Although Efrim’s singing is, according to classical standards, very weak and unskilled, it fits perfectly the mood of the songs, which is, tragic, sad and very, very melancholic. It’s the voice of a broken man.

Another difference with GYBE is the structure of the songs. GYBE was well know for the slowly evolving soundscapes, eventually bursting to a climax of pure, heartbreaking beauty. Instead, the tracks on ‘Horses in the sky’ are more calm and do not evolve to a climax. The title track for instance, is of serenity unknown to GYBE. Careless listeners might want to put a rope around their necks after listening to ‘Horses in the sky’, because of their intense sadness, careful listeners will, undoubtedly, find the pearls of melancholic beauty hidden within the songs.
The quality of GYBE is maintained in TSMZMO. Same instruments are used, such as the violin, swirling electric guitars and nicely plucked acoustic guitars. Also textually the band is very strong and suggestive.

According to the band, the songs are ‘Sticky worried knots’ made by ‘Messy hearts made of thunder.’ Listening to the dreary tracks, one can just image the band sitting around a campfire, worried and anxious about the state of affairs in the world and in the hearts of man. In putting these feelings to music, the band has done the greatest job possible.

artist: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band
label: Constellation Records
details: 6 tracks, 2005 [CST 033]