From the bombs dropping on the cover to the slow buildups towards destruction and post-rock beauty in the compositions, this is Godspeed You Black Emperor at its most stripped-down, straightforward, and unsparing. Indie-rock icon Steve Albini produced YANQUI U.X.O., and his trademark extreme dynamics suit this shadowy Canadian collective well, weighing down on the roots of their whisper-to-frenzy style so they can freely branch off into new realms. The opener "09-15-00" departs into twangy, lounge-like territory not out of place for a Sergio Leone-cum-David Lynch nightmare (though it's apparently about Israel). "Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls" raises dark towers from shaky foundations of shivery Phillip Glass-style arpeggios, while the lead-heavy drones in "Motherf***er = Redeemer" sink into pools of near-total abstraction.
Godspeed cultists are generally divided on this album, though few debate its unusually high--even for the band--apocalyptic gloom quotient. This is probably not an advisable first listen for anyone easily swayed by morose music, but for the brave listener ready to aurally journey to the horizon of man's tragic destiny, this crushing work of post-rock art should carry them long and far.
Spin (3/03, p.119) - 7 out of 10 - "...Using strings, percussion, and massed electric guitars, these slow-mo instrumental rockers draw stunningly apocalyptic visions of capitalism in its death throes..."
Uncut (12/02, p.130) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Musically rich and emotionally powerful..."
CMJ (12/02, p.53) - "...Long quiet climbs to intense rock climax...a voiceless 74-minute, five suite sonic excursion..."
Mojo (Publisher) (1/03, p.98) - "...A series of exclusively instrumental pieces powerful and elegant enough to exist in complete abstraction..."