Montreal’s most dedicated protest rock group Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra will be playing a very special record release show at the Rialto on [Thursday Feb 6th]. They’ll be hitting the road hard in the next few months all over Europe and the States to celebrate their latest record, Fuck Off Get Free Pour Light On Everything.
Fuck Off Get Free picks up where 2010’s stripped down and aggressive Kollaps Tradixionales left off. Surprisingly, in the four years between LPs, the ensemble’s line up has remained unchanged. This may not sound significant, but they’ve changed their roster (and name) on almost every one of their seven albums. The same group of players coming back for two records in a row is a feat unmatched since Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward (2001) and “This Is Our Punk-Rock,” Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing (2002).
Aesthetically far removed from what passes for punk, the group’s attitude and ethos have been squarely rooted in that camp all along. There are perfectly valid artistic strategies to pursue as musicians besides virtuosity. Friendship and collaboration high among them. Music is an eminently social activity. Playing music, listening to music, understanding music, feeling music, all in some way must connect with other people. As a deeply collaborative ensemble, in which virtually all the songs are written collectively and all members have an equal financial stake, the politically charged lyrical content sung by the whole group goes beyond superficial gestures. They embody their politics in their art.
Something that has changed is the arrival of Efrim and Jessica’s son Ezra, who is depicted on the cover of Fuck Off (as he was on Efrim’s solo record from 2011). The documentary Come Worry With Us, which premiered last fall during RIDM,explored the difficulties of squaring away the band’s ethos with the realities of touring with a toddler. Ezra was no doubt adorable in his time on screen (“I a cat!”), but the film made clear how the band’s relationship with their newest member has deeply affected their worldview. A sense of melancholy is still pervasive throughout, but there is also a newfound sense of urgency, a desperate hope in the potential embodied by children. When confronted by the horrors of the 20th century the political theorist Hannah Arendt (herself subject of a recent film) also found hope in natality, for the surprise and interruption that the constant welcoming of new beings can bring to our troubled world. Judging by the tone of Fuck Off Get Free, I take it the band has had a similar epiphany.
The album opens with some words from little Ezra: “We live on a island called Montreal. And… we make a lot of noise because we love each other.” A remarkably succinct mission statement from a band that began as an abstract instrumental project. Come out on February 6th and make some noise and spread the love.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion – Hang on to Each Other
Constellation Records, April 2014
The dust has barely settled following the release of Fuck Off Get Free Pour Light On Everything and already Thee Silver Mt. Zion have graced us with this gem. Ever the shape shifters, I nonetheless found myself double checking my calendar to make sure this press release wasn’t an April Fool’s gag. A House music 12” from Silver Mt. Zion? (Read the full review here)