Easily the least commercial amongst a field of mostly recognizable names, the veteran Montreal instrumental collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor took home this year's Polaris Music Prize for Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, their first release in a decade. Annually awarded to the record voted by a panel to be the "best" Canadian album of the year, the Polaris Prize has in the past honored the likes of Feist, Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson and Caribou, among others. In addition to GYBE, this year's short list included Metric, Purity Ring, Young Galaxy, Colin Stetson, Tegan & Sara, Whitehorse, A Tribe Called Red, METZ and Zaki Ibrahim.
For their part, Godspeed You! Black Emperor was not exactly ecstatic with the honor and $30,000 prize. They released a statement via their label, Constellation, that reads in part:
"A FEW WORDS REGARDING THIS POLARIS PRIZE THING
hello kanadian music-writers.
thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important."
Before going on:
"so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY S... AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really f...... needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS F...... INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise."
And concluding thusly:
"us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…
amen and amen.
apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is f.....,
godspeed you! black emperor"
Ahem. Read the band's entire statement here.
As for the music, here's opening track "Mladic" from Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!: