A Silver Mt. Zion | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Silver Mt. Zion

This Is Our Punk Rock

You know something's up when an hour-long disc is comprised of only four songs -- especially when the qualifiers "punk" and "rock" are part of the album's title. Obviously we've come a long way since the days when punk meant little more than three chords in three minutes -- nearly a quarter-century, actually -- and A Silver Mt. Zion drives this point home over and over again in their third release, a simply stunning operatic experiment in piano, double bass and violin, of all things.


Imagine the climactic rock opera that might play inside an observatory, for instance, and you'll start to get the idea. This Is Our Punk Rock is a crashing soundtrack for the heavens, or maybe even the astral deities, and its largely instrumental compositions are about as far from three chords and a chorus as the Stooges and the Ramones were from thoughts of experimental noodling in their heyday.


The band itself is essentially a reformation of various players from the Montreal based chamber-rock group Godspeed You Black Emperor!, including guitarist Efrim (who keeps mostly to the piano on Punk Rock) and violinist Sophie. And like Godspeed, the new music of Efrim and Co. is most notable not just for its precision-perfect horns and strings, but rather its wide emotive range. The building-to-crescendo theme is ever-present throughout songs one, two and three, (which don't seem to have titles, by the way) and by song four, a cheerless group rendition of the album's only discernable lyrics --  "Everybody gets a little lost sometimes" -- rounds out the disc. Calling A Silver Mt. Zion a rock band is, admittedly, a bit questionable. But punk? No doubt about it. We've come a long way, indeed.

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