Shattered beauty. A weary voice sings cracked through traffic. A simple refrain, delicate then back backed with eye-fluttering power
then gone. Ticks and clicks and scrapings and wheezings menacing
towards a volume and/or melody never revealed.
Sings Reign Rebuilder is the first (2001) release by Set Fire To Flames. This is just another moniker for another subset of the same musical community in Montréal, Canada who make up Godspeed You Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, and the half of the rest of Constellation's 'signings' (though for some reason this was released on Alien8 not Constellation).
So is this just more of the same?
No. This is special. A soundscape comprised more of sounds than music, the sound of constraints - instruments played for 15mins without a note being struck, field recordings of "lyingdyingwonderbodies" full of despair and/or insanity, snippets of melody slow graceful dives into broken emptiness.
And then the moments of glory, the rare slow builds which don't decay before they've built, the locked step of steal compass/drive north/disappear and the indescribable feeling of freedom as the chains dissolve and the pattern is fled for a new joyous simplicity; or the gradual inevitable coalescence of shit-heap-gloria of the new town planning, which goes exactly where it has to go and where you need it to go, though it's a necessity edgy, twisted and painful...
And all cut through with the echoing, creaking sound and spirit of 15 Ontario, the house in which the album was recorded and to which it is dedicated, of which it is a part, collapsing and condemned. Is it not, this idea, so beautiful, and so wondrous? Fourteen people creating the sound of shattered, futile beauty in a shattered building soon to be destroyed. "But they can't erase the recording that was made here"...
This album is a recognisable part of the Montreal post-rock sound, but it is a unique part. Often a painful, harrowing listen, but somehow an ensnaring one.