Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra live at Crocodile
(all photos by Robert Hanna)
Sophie Trudeau of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra
Montreal’s signature indie/neo-classical outfit Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (SMZ) has endured several line-up and directional shifts since their inception in 1999. Largely recognized as a spin-off project of the legendary post-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor, SMZ has gone from almost a purely instrumental act to a purely vocal-driven act under the constant exploration and evolution of singer and guitarist Efrim Menuck. The groups past two offerings have really defined their sound as a unique entity separate from GSYBE, while still retaining the atmospheric and ethereal qualities of their musical alias. While Menuck is generally cited as SMZ’s frontman, their live dynamic and stage setup tells a different, more collectively run story.
Efrim Menuck of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra
The group ominously placed a framed, upside-down portrait of Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper in front of their gear before they played, much to the puzzled amusement of the crowd. Launching right into “13 Blues for Thirteen Moons,” SMZ’s effect-laden sound is so expansive it’s hard to believe there’s only five people in the group. The show was opened by Total Life, a solo side project by Kevin Doria of Brooklyn via Olympia noise-enthusiasts Growing. Total Life’s set was essentially an ascending wall of solid noise and sound texture produced through Doria’s EBow-manipulated guitar. It was a strange and discomforting juxtaposition to SMZ’s intense and vibrant musicality. Kevin Doria of Total Life