The brutal dance of a boxer is sprinkled with check-punches; half-shots and light jabs that unbalance the opponent before the pounding ensues. Similarly, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band’s 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons checks the listener with 12 tracks of eerie squeals, unsettling feedback and white noise before easing into “1,000,000 Died to Make This Sound,” a molten- lava ooze preceding an eruption of symphonic fire.
Grown from the embers of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band (or A Silver Mt. Zion, as they are casually known), have bucked conformity since emerging in 1999. Driving complexity and experimentation is at the heart of 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons, making the core of the album – four tracks that clock in at over 13 minutes each – a boisterous, often dire, voyage through layers of sound. Jigsaw guitars and shearing violin and viola underscore singer/songwriter and band founder Efrim Menuck’s slightly-left vocals throughout “13 Blues for Thirteen Moons”, the chorus chant of “I just want some action” dissolving into a sultry guitar melody, a wave of calm before yet another thunderstorm sonic fury.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band are a true threat, a clever opponent that can certainly dance like a butterfly. However, it’s the sting of 13 Blues for 13 Moons that burns long after the bout-ending ring of the bell.