» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
A Silver Mt Zion
Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 28, 2001
A Silver Mt Zion have, as a sister to slowcore giants God Speed You Black Emperor!, managed to actually create a name for themselves through compelling music rather than through existing simply as a barnacle on the stilts of a master.

Expanding their lineup to include a new string section and in turn expanding their name with the suffix "Orchestra And Tra-La-La Band," A Silver Mt Zion have transformed themselves into an entirely new collection with a new, massive potential. Like GYBE! and their colossal identity, A Silver Mt Zion take their time developing each idea within each song. Like the master painters, they take care to assemble a framework and then stretch a canvas over it before painting the final picture. Notes are gently felt out, then slowly introduced together, mixed in a large, sweeping motion, volume increasing all the while. The opening track, "Sisters! Brothers! Small boats of fire are falling from the sky!," sneaks up on you in sinister fashion, spinning a minacious web that tightens steadily, but almost inperceptibly over the course of nearly ten minutes. The strings provide a set of claws to what might otherwise pass as chamber music, setting a pattern for the rest of the album.

Like all artists pushing the ambient, minimalist noise limits, A Silver Mt Zion often succumb to their own experimentation, doting too long on the manipulation of various field noises or one of the many brightly disparaging passages. There is plenty of climactic gain across this album, but all too often (frustratingly so, sometimes), there is never a true breaking point, no explosion from which we can appreciate the high water mark. There can also appear, from the undedicated listener's standpoint, the characteristics of monotony. While the actual interplay and even instrumentation vary, the bulk of the album ends up sounding like an enormous extension of the opening track. Vocals, for the first time ever, are used to ad progression markers throughout the album, to give it a more linear and less spatial chronology, with mixed results. I could stand to do without the child voice in "Built then Burnt (Hufrah! Hurrah!)" and the almost embarrassing art-metal voice in "Take these hands and throw them in the river," but "The triumph of our tired eyes" is a pleasant closer.

As you could imagine, The Silver Mt Zion Orchestra And Tra-La-La Band is not for the faint of heart or the inattentive. It is challenging and it is definately mood music, but it is also terribly rewarding, especially when considered as a bedroom recording, which it really is. Think of it as a tribute the magnitude of creativity and spooky music. I still get freaked out when the dog starts barking at the end of "Take these hands and throw them in the river," and that is a good thing.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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