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‘The Holy Grail of Post-Rock’, Godspeed You! Black Emperor Confirm Authenticity of Long-Lost Demo Leak

Limited to just 33 copies, the 1994 demo from the Canadian post-rock collective has remained one of music’s greatest lost treasures.

UPDATE (15/2): Godspeed You! Black Emperor have officially confirmed that the leak of their All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling demo was indeed genuine, uploading an official version of the release onto their Bandcamp page.

Condensing the release into four tracks, the album’s official description clarifies that the album “was a retirement letter”, releasing around the time that Efrim Menuck had intended to quit music to focus on film.

Likewise, there’s clarification that the version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on this release has “no relation to the band that followed”, with the group effectively disbanding and reforming in the years afterwards. Menuck also discussed the creation and unauthorised release of the record in a recent interview with the Kreative Kontrol podcast.

While the record is available for purchase now, the group have explained that all proceeds from sits ales will go toward the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East campaign to provide medical oxygen to the Gaza Strip.

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Ever since their early-‘90s formation, Canadian post-rock outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor has been shrouded in mystery. Now, their earliest – and most infamous – recordings may have been discovered.

Though having risen to fame in the late ‘90s with debut album, F♯ A♯ ∞, and later reaching a wider audience with the underground success of 2000’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been as consistently enigmatic as their work is beautiful.

Armed with an arresting, cinematic musical focus, an anarchistic ethos, and a desire for privacy, Godspeed became a ten-piece collective in 2000, after first coalescing as a punk-influenced trio in 1994. However, it’s these early days that have been a source of constant intrigue for fans.

According to reports, rumours, and – eventually – some confirmation from ban members, Godspeed first made their recorded debut with a limited cassette-only demo in 1994. Titled All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling, it was limited to just 33 copies, and reportedly bears very little resemblance to what would later be created by their expanded lineup.

As unofficial frontman Efrim Menuck would explain, he’s remained constantly surprised at the fact a recording of the demo has never surfaced in the years since its creation. “I don’t know why it hasn’t turned up on the internet yet,” Menuck said. “I’ve been looking.”

In fact, a lack of official information on the release (save for a long-defunct web page on the band’s website) actually left many followers of the group wondering if it was even a real recording, or simply a joke the band had played on its fans.

In 2013, the music world thought this seemingly mythological release had surfaced online when a user took to Reddit to claim they had a copy of what has been dubbed “the holy grail of post-rock”. After sharing a few recordings (which have since been thought to be real, if not convincing fakes), the user appeared to have been scared off by the sudden influx of attention, abandoning the site a few days later.

Fast forward another nine years, and it seems someone else has appeared with what they claim to be the real deal. This time though, there’s appears to be a greater chance they could be right.

The recording first appeared on the oft-controversial site 4chan, causing some skeptics to take the appearance of the tape with a grain of salt. “I have something you’ve all wanted for a long, long time,” the anonymous poster wrote on the /mu/ board. “No one used to have this. but now, everyone can.”

The user then urged listeners to compare tracks on this new rip of the cassette to ones that had previously existed. Upon doing so, some sleuths on Reddit have discovered that audio spectrographs of tracks do indeed match up, but with enough differences to indicate they’re not just same versions of the previously leaked songs.

“This is it. The first Godspeed You! Black Emperor album,” the poster wrote. “I hope you enjoy.”

As for its content, the cassette bears little resemblance to what Godspeed would later evolve into, lending both credence and doubt as to its authenticity. Previously, Menuck had indicated that the demo was far different from their later sound, and the new recording does indeed show a rather scrappy band with noise-rock influences, albeit with a tendency to embrace samples and minimalism as they would later.

However, some skeptics have put forward the notion that if this is indeed the case, it would be far easier to create a fake recording and simply pass it off as the mythological tape.

Meanwhile, there are some other elements that lend a bit of credibility to the tape’s recording. Most notably, the same uncredited voice that narrates the group’s 1997 song “The Dead Flag Blues” appears to be featured on the track “Diminish Shine”, while the tape also features a recording of “Mouths Trapped in Static”, which would later be recorded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor side project, Set Fire To Flames.

As yet, no official word has come forward by either Godspeed You! Black Emperor or their label, Constellation Records, as to whether this is indeed the real thing, or whether the band want the recording released into the world in this manner. But even if it’s not a legitimate rip of this fabled cassette, it appears real enough in the eyes of fans to potentially end one of post-rock’s greatest treasure hunts.