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February 1st, 2012 SHANE DANAHER | Music Stories
 

Primer: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

music_theesilvermtzion_3813THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA - IMAGE: Yannick Grandmon
Formed: 1999 in Montreal. 

Sounds like: Orchestral punk epics drawn from sorrow, desolation and unease. 

For fans of: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Mount Eerie, Brian Eno, Philip Glass

Latest release: Kollaps Tradixionales, which features two songs over 14 minutes in length, a rare explosion of jagged vocals from group founder Efrim Menuck and songs ranging in structure from three-part suites to straight-up four-on-the-floor rockers. 

Why you care: The history of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra is so byzantine as to require book-length exegesis, so in this format, the CliffsNotes version will have to suffice. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (hereafter referred to as SMZ, for reasons that will become apparent) was founded in 1999 by Menuck, then guitarist for seminally gauche orchestral collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Menuck thought his ideas were a bit too experimental for GY!BE, which is telling, seeing as that band viewed experimentation as its one enduring virtue. Since its formation, SMZ has produced six albums, had 10 lineup changes and at least a half-dozen variations in moniker. At certain points, Menuck and company have also referred to themselves as A Silver Mt. Zion, Thee Silver Mountain Reveries and The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band. SMZ’s music is a constantly shifting amalgam of Godspeed’s orchestral mood pieces, post-rock’s supersized epicness and punk’s unrelenting ambition to make dirty things simply for the sake of dirtiness. Frequently eschewing vocals, approachable song lengths, and any attempts at pigeonholing, SMZ has proven to be one of the 21st century’s first and most dedicated outliers.


 


SEE IT: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra plays Mississippi Studios on Saturday, Feb. 4, with Total Life. 9 pm. $14. 21+.

 
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