In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement where spirits may not have been high, Nina Simone walked onto the stage and used her raspy voice to send a message. That message is there's always tomorrow and the future is bright. It's a live album that features Simone singing some of her biggest songs as well as other songs that she was fond of at the time. It also features a lot of dialogue from Simone on issues facing black Americans at the time.
With Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the question is easy: Where do you even begin? For nearly a quarter century the shifting, roughly nine-member Canadian collective has been releasing swelling, torrential compositions that also gracefully loom, like a dewed spiderweb, squaring the circle of neo-classical and punk rock. It is demanding, complex, wordless music, directed in part at the off-switch of the information age. Godspeed — a project that, remarkably, exists completely on its own financial and creative terms — expects an interpretive exchange from its listeners, and rewards surrender to the transaction. This is music that's not a map but an unreliable compass, precise in its dissonance and generous with its emotions.