The Emperor has no clothes (God Speed you! Black Emperor review)

I’m hip. I’m cool. I might even be groovy occasionally. I don’t need my music unintelligent, or my noise toned down. I can appreciate Black Angel’s Death Song with the worst of ’em. I paid my dues at the altar of Benzedrine, and have been known to get down with Bacchus and his dirty bottle of $2 Gallo migraine-red to party hearty, only to fall onto someone else’s urine stained mattress and wake up heaving in the morning as a speed freek picks the legs off roaches that crawl over the burners, staring at the fungus that crawls up walls in the more dilapidated high rise blocks in town. I’m happy to lay my credentials upon the table and crawl behind the ghost of Lester Bangs, nervously screaming, that guys, I know they are meant to be cool and all that chamber punk quartet doom metal jazz, but uh, haven’t you noticed? The Black Emperor has no clothes, and has called the cops on the speed merchants before the party could even get started.

I know, I know, I got old, and am somewhat resistant to new music, but then modern life is shit, and new music generally sucks, so it is not new I am against, per se, just Bad. I know that everybody and their In Rainbows Radiohead worshipping brother is in love with this band, but I just can’t see the attraction. Heavy on the instrumental, more muzak for elevators than music for the elevated, spoken slowed down word lyrics that make like The Grateful Dead’s Ripple dumbed down, with the occasional profane reference thrown in as an afterthought. The Dead sang about eternal fountains, a little cut price acid philosophy for the lost and permatripping, whilst the ‘Emperor’s intone thinking if they use more syllables it might make it all MEAN SOMETHING.

And so the path through the great corridors
These are corridors unto his perfection

That is which the Prophet the Urim and Thummim have penetrated

That through this great sea of blackness
That I penetrated through these corridors
And I went through that last segment

All I can think of is The Egyptian Book of the Dead, and some worn out half baked pseudo-philosophical wonderings inspired this dullness. I don’t know anyone else has ever read that book and produced anything quite so grey and meaningless as a result.

Where the genius lays is in the added soupcon of shock in the titles, and it is here that all the interest lies: this band makes a good title – G-d’s Pee At States End(!) Lift your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven! Luciferian Towers. Man, can they name a band, and name a title and a track! They named themselves after a 1976 black and white documentary about a Japanese motorcycle gang- The Black Emperors, and formulated a concept around this title which has nothing to do with motorcycle gangs at all.

A vaguely sacrilegious idolatry, involving skinny fists and heavens. It is all so boring, all so passé, all so hipster without the meaning or talent or creativity which should attend it. Give me The Dead singing honest hippy trippy shit about fountains not made by the hand of men, and wishing they knew the way “home” any day! Give me honest cheesy love and peace Californian positivity over this dreary dull meaningless cold place depresso-twinkle-drone. It comes off like Justin Bieber for depressed hipsters trying to persuade everybody else that that they are so intelligent they don’t even need lyrics. I would rather find an elevator to stand in and listen to xylophone covers of the Beatles Greatest Hits.

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