A Silver Mt Zion is a Canadian band from Montreal Quebec, Canada, formed in 1999. The band started as a side project by three members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Efrim Menuck, Thierry Amar and Sophie Trudeau, but their fanbase has expanded since then, and they are no longer seen merely as an offshoot of GYBE but as a unique and separate entity.
The initial scope of A Silver Mt. Zion was a project in which Efrim Menuck hoped to learn how to score music. Menuck would like to communicate better with his fellow musicians by getting familiar with music theory. This idea was soon abandoned as Menuck realised that he preferred not knowing precisely what he was doing when writing, opting to "fumble" instead. Finally, A Silver Mt Zion's debut album was born out of a desire by Efrim Menuck to record something for his dog Wanda, who died of cancer while Godspeed You! Black Emperor were on tour.
A Silver Mt. Zion’s music was initially centered around Menuck’s plaintive piano themes, supported by Amar’s first forays into upright acoustic bass playing and Trudeau’s swirling violin cascades. Their early releases were mostly instrumental albums but, recently, their music often features lyrics and vocals. In fact, the last few albums they have released contain no purely instrumental tracks.
A Silver Mt Zion released five full-length albums and one E.P. so far at the influential record label Constellation records. They use different variations of the name on different releases. The group expanded to six members after their debut in late 2000, with the addition of Rebecca Foon (cello), Ian Ilavsky (guitar) and Jessica Moss (violin), while they are now seven musicians with the addition of Eric Craven (drums) before their most recent release.
Although I personally prefer their first mostly instrumental albums, their lyrics are great, very powerful political words. Excellent band, one of the most influential of the zeros.
More info: Official Website, Last.fm, MySpace, Wikipedia, Constellation records
Live performances: archive.org
1. He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms… (2000)
Released as "A Silver Mt. Zion", their debut is a quiet album of beautiful and hypnotic melancholy. Dedicated to Efrim's late dog, Wanda.
1. Broken Chords Can Sing a Little
2. Sit In the Middle of Three Galloping Dogs
3. Stumble Then Rise on Some Awkward Morning
4. Movie (Never Made)
5. 13 Angels Standing Guard 'round the Side of Your Bed
6. Long March Rocket or Doomed Airliner.
7. Blown-out Joy from Heaven's Mercied Hole
8. For Wanda
2. Born into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward (2001)
Released as "The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band", this album is stunningly, heartbreakingly beautiful in its unfolding, devastating in its beauty and ghostly in its articulation. In my opinion, this is Silver Mt Zion's best album! Absolutely brilliant from the beginning to the end! Only a couple of songs have feature lyrics, but when they do the are great. From "Built Then Burnt (Hurrah! Hurrah!)":
"Dear brothers and sisters
dear enemies and friends
Why are we all so alone here
All we need is a little more hope, a little more joy
All we need is a little more light, a little less weight, a little more freedom..."
1. Sisters! Brothers! Small Boats of Fire Are Falling from the Sky!
2. This Gentle Hearts Like Shot Bird's Fallen
3. Built Then Burnt [Hurrah! Hurrah!]
4. Take These Hands and Throw Them in the River
5. Could've Moved Mountains
6. Tho You Are Gone I Still Often Walk w/ You
7. C'mon Come On (Loose and Endless Longing)
8. The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes
3. "This Is Our Punk-Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather + Sing (2003)
Released as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band with Choir, this time the band is joined by a 22-member choir. A great album, similar to their two previous releases! Again some great lyrics (from "American Motor Over Smoldered Field"):
"Bullets in the bellies of babies
Sleeping in the strangest places
This fence around your garden won't keep the sky from falling..."
1. Sow Some Lonesome Corner So Many Flowers Bloom
2. Babylon Was Built on Fire/Starsnostars
3. American Motor Over Smoldered Field
4. Goodbye Desolate Railyard
4. The "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" E.P. (2004)
Released as Thee Silver Mountain Reveries. Many of the band members switched instruments for this recording. For example, Sophie Trudeau, who can usually be found playing violin, plays the bass guitar and Ian Ilavsky, usually one of the band's guitarists, plays drums.
1. More Action! Less Tears!
2. Microphones in the Trees
3. Pretty Little Lightning Paw
4. There's a River in the Valley Made of Melting Snow
5. Horses in the Sky (2005)
Released as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, this is their first album to feature lyrics on every track. The lyrics here are at their top level! An example from "Horses in the Sky":
"Though we was born defeated
Worried, tired and scared
And monsters build mean robots
Launching rockets into the air
And the wealth of our nations
Fed on angel blood
And our cities shot with moneyed schemes
Built on twigs and mud
And our schools look like prisons
And our prisons look like malls
And downtown's just a sick parade
Where no-one cares at all"
1. God Bless Our Dead Marines
2. Mountains Made of Steam
3. Horses in the Sky
4. Teddy Roosevelt's Guns
5. Hang on to Each Other
6. Ring Them Bells (Freedom Has Come and Gone)
6. 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (2008)
This is their most recent album and (surprise surprise!) they kept the same name as their previous release. It consists of an instrumental intro, split into twelve very short untitled tracks, and four full songs, which had been played live on recent tours. It's the first time that the album package contains the song lyrics. In the highlight of the album, BlindBlindBlind, the band expresses once again their love for punk music/ideology:
"We want punks in the palace
'Cause punks got the loveliest dreams..."
13. 1,000,000 Died to Make This Sound
14. 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
15. Black Waters Blowed/Engine Broke Blues
Check the comments to listen before you buy!