Canada, for all intent and purpose is the epicenter of a sustained movement in musical ideologies that neither conforms to, nor deliberately obfuscates the traditional norms of pop music performance. Call it a “collapse into” approach to what bands must approximate commercially and critically to their marketing handlers, and ultimately their fans. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra or just Silver Mt. Zion to the initiated is another sprawling musical collective like Broken Social Scene that Canada favors to export like Molson beer.
Formed in 1999 by Efrim Menuck of the influential post-rock band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, SMZ has carved out its niche in the highly fractured musical landscape of the colder Canadian province of Quebec. Their sound is a heady brew of somber and alternately seething instrumental musique noir, heavy on string arrangements, pounding rhythms, ambient noises, discordant samples and Menuck’s occasional forays into spoken word territory. With six full-length recordings to their credit, the most recent, Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation) is completely in keeping with their trademark sound.
SMZ makes two incredibly rare appearances in the Northeast this weekend. On September 30th, they share a bill with Giraffes? Giraffe! (9 p.m.) at Pearl Street Night Club in Northampton, Mass, and on October 5th with heretherebmonsters (7 p.m.) at the Aetna Theater (the Wadsworth Atheneum) in Hartford.