Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra "This is Our Punk-Rock..." DLP
This is the second full-length by the six-piece Tra-La-La-Band, along with guest drummers Eric Craven (who would eventually fill the drum seat for a spell) and Howard Bilerman (who also recorded the album, at the original Hotel2Tango). The band also brought in a couple dozen folks for mass choral duty on the opening and closing tracks (hence the “with choir” extension of the band name). While the group’s previous album, Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward, was a mostly instrumental work recorded in one weekend, the new record was sketched in rehearsals through the fall of 2002 and arranged in studio, resulting in four long pieces, all featuring group and/or lead vocals. Efrim’s increased vocal presence is the most obvious evolution from past efforts, yielding the most direct articulation to that point of themes and sentiments that run throughout his work with SMZ and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Long instrumental passages remain, with dense layers of strings colliding against a backdrop of ragged repeating guitar figures and noise treatments.
The amateur choir assembled for the ‘fasola’ sing-along on the opening track sets the tone for an exuberant, community-rallying protest music that constitutes the spiritual foundation of the record. Destruction of communities (foreign and local) are lamented and eulogised in the songs that follow, culminating in the album closer: an ode to the empty railyard terrain adjacent to the neighbourhood where the band, along with many other Montreal musicians and artists, have lived for many years. This land is now being swallowed up by big box and condo development. This is Our Punk-Rock… addresses the local/universal demise of uncontrolled and unregulated urban landscapes – a demise that stretches from the docile walls of superstore complexes and protest ‘pens’ in the West to outright military surveillance, harassment and murderous ‘surgical’ strikes by Western-backed armies in South America and the Middle East. This unbroken curve is at the heart of Mt. Zion’s poetics and politics – this is their punk-rock.