Live review: Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra at Oran Mor, 25/2/14

SONY DSCThee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra is a Canadian five-piece featuring Godspeed! You Black Emperor guitarist Efrim Menuck, violinists Sophie Trudeau and Jessica Moss, bassist Thierry Amar and drummer David Payant and tonight they light up Glasgow’s Oran Mor with a combination of righteous fury and expansive proggy songcraft.

Their latest album Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is an explosive combination of literary references and crescendoing alt-rock based around the group’s unique instrumental set-up.

Their signature sound comes from the duelling and interweaving fiddles, over a rock backdrop that flits between droning single chord jams to rolling Led Zeppelin drum breaks.

Introducing themselves as being from Montreal, Quebec, the politics of identity and separatism are never far from Menuck’s songs; shining a light on modern dystopias and the struggle for catharsis amongst bleak visions of the 21st century.

Oran Mor is packed with hipsters and philosophy professors alike but despite the dual violins and stand-up bass musically this evening’s set draws as much from post-rock and doom-metal as traditional folk.

Menuck is a frontman in the mode of Frank Zappa or Michael Gira from Swans, content to let the chaos revolve around him.

On the stark, fourteen minute, social commentary ‘Austerity Blues’ he’s content to jam on a single chord as the rest of the band move from sparse percussion and rubbery bass to a fierce instrumental climax howling in the face of a storm.

‘Rains Thru the Roof at the Grande Ballroom’ is part of a duo of tracks described as being about musicians dying young and how in Menuck’s own words he doesn’t want to.

With his wild hair and open black shirt, he’s certainly the most rock n’ roll looking of the group but there’s nothing so vulgar as classic rock to his songwriting, instead focusing on picking through the alienation and disruption of modern living and the role of the artist within that.

‘Epiphany Rambler’ is dedicated to any nurses and social workers in the audience, while ‘All their Kings are Dead’ is a new track that starts with a deliberately messy punk vocal before morphing into a raging beast of a track with screaming guitar and stop-start bass.

Returning for a brief encore of ‘Little Ones Run’, a dark lullaby reminiscent of Low, Menuck thanks the crowd and departs.

Expansive, challenging, experimental and socially conscious, this is progressive rock in every sense of the word.

More Photos

Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Dom MacInnes

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