POST-ROCK GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Barrowlands, Glasgow, Wed 8 Dec, supported by RM Hubbert
When Montreal collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor played their second ever UK show in Edinburgh’s tiny Stills Gallery in November 1998, it was a suitably low-key setting for a fiercely private-minded group who, with the rise of pre-millennial tension, sounded as seriously fin de siècle as they came. Arriving on the back of their opaquely titled 1997 album, F#A#∞ (pronounced ‘F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity’), a slow- burning chamber-suite urgently soundtracking the apocalypse, these anarchistically-inclined auteurs presented a darkly complex set of arrangements that applied the epic soundtracks of Ennio Morricone to the string-laden mournfulness of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. GYBE suggested the worst even as they yearned for something better.
Even the Stills show captured a pervading sense of collapse when, 45 minutes in, the venue’s speakers blew. Or the sound was pulled after the upstairs
neighbours complained. No-one was sure. Everything seemed doomed, Godspeed included. Within a year, however, GYBE graced the cover of the NME and headlined the second stage of Belle & Sebastian’s holiday camp-set Bowlie Weekender. Godspeed toured with Sigur Rós and appeared at the Mogwai-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. Three more similarly intense records, and then, after 2003, silence.
The world hasn’t ended, but Godspeed now sound like prophets, curating an ATP of their own before playing Barrowlands. So is this prodigal return some kind of big bucks sell-out? Or have an underground cell broken cover to say ‘I told you so’ now we’re dancing through dark times once more? Truth is, no-one knows. Now, as then, GYBE aren’t playing ball. There is no press release or images. Nor are they talking to the press. ‘The internet is a petty tyrannical monster’ declared a band- signed communiqué in April. As the final typed-out words on the blurry-black and ambiguous sleeve of F#A#∞ decreed, ‘no efforts to reconcile have been made’. Embrace the fear. (Neil Cooper)
Music TECHNO-POP MATTHEW DEAR Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 4 Dec as part of Huntley & Palmers Audio Club 3rd Birthday; Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Sun 5 Dec
‘Yeah, I think I’m pretty much crazy,’ responds Matthew Dear with a laugh to the suggestion that a psychiatrist could probably write a fascinating case study with the Detroit producer/ avant-pop artist and his variety of split personas – Jabberjaw, Audion and False – lying on their couch. Under his various aliases, Dear
restlessly knocks out micro house and minimalist techno, and does remixes for the likes of The xx and Hot Chip. But it’s the crepuscular, cerebral 4am funk he delivers under his given name (‘It’s on my driver’s licence’) which he insists is truest to himself. ‘It’s what I come back to as my nest when I’m in the studio,’ he says.
Dear’s latest album Black City sees him continue on the same path, beginning with 2007’s highly-regarded Asa Breed, away from the shelter and comfort zone behind his laptop towards performing as frontman for a full live band. He still DJs extensively, and it’s the ‘pendulum’ experience – swinging back and forth between the two poles – that keeps things fresh for him, as he explains.
‘I did DJ dates all summer, in Ibiza and all over Europe, and when I first came to rehearsal for this tour I was getting on the mic and thinking “what the hell am I doing? Now I’m trying to sing with a band?” But days became weeks became months, and now I’m thinking “I’m in a band – why would I DJ tomorrow?” I like things to feel fractured I guess,’ he adds. ‘I’d actually go crazy if I had to just choose one.’ (Malcolm Jack)
SPACE ROCK MANUEL GOTTSCHING Men & Machines at Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 11 Dec
This is a coup and then some for the team behind Glasgow’s Men & Machines club night. Not only has Manuel Göttsching never played Scotland before, but he only plays about two or three gigs around the world every year. ‘I’m usually too busy with other projects or working in my studio,’ he says on the line from his home in Berlin, ‘but they asked me, I thought it sounded interesting, I’ve never been there before.’ For fans of vintage krautrock, the Kosmische sound of space rock and pioneering electronic music and minimalist composition in general, Göttsching is something of a minor deity. As a member of pioneering trio Ash Ra Tempel in the early 70s alongside Klaus Schulze and Hartmut Enke and then his own splinter version of that
group, named Ashra, he was instrumental in a strong catalogue of spaced-out and ahead of their time psychedelic albums. These include 1972’s Timothy Leary-assisted Seven Up and 1973’s Starring Rosi, while his own 1984 album E2-E4 was a heavily influential piece of early, Eno-esque electronica. Now he recalls those early days with a laugh, when Ash Ra played on equipment bought by Schulze in London from Pink Floyd’s technicians because they couldn’t afford to buy gear in West Berlin: a city where ‘the clubs had no closing times, and all the young people came because there was no call up for national service in the city.’ Here he promises a mixed solo programme of guitars and electronics, featuring ‘part of my  composition Die Mulde, which has only been performed once before, and some of my older titles from the 1970s.’ It promises to be unmissable. (David Pollock)
2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 63