Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La

    13 Blues for Thirteen Moons



    The band that always changes its name to reflect a new project and shifts in membership is back. Just as the original members remain (Efrim Menuck, Thierry Amar, and Sophie Trudeau) so does the Silver Mountain bit of their moniker. For 2008, they’re now a Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band, but from here on out, we’ll just refer to them as SMZ for brevity’s and my typing fingers’ sake. And much like their fluctuations in nomenclature, the title itself is cryptic. 13 Blues for 13 Moons would make one think that there are 13 proper tracks on the album, but ha ha! The first 9 are actually very short little clicks and scratches, tiptoeing their way to the opening composition “1,000,000 Died to Make This Sound”, nearly fifteen minutes of riffs and rants in that classic SMZ style.


    As with previous releases, SMZ is still a protest band—politically, socially, environmentally conscious. On each record the band’s message gets progressively clearer and the lyrics bolder. Menuck’s voice is foregrounded in the recording and his plaintive, pained warblings tumble over the searing, raucous beauty that drums, two guitars, two violins, contrabass and cello are responsible for creating. The metaphors are clear, “We’re building trainwrecks in the setting sun” from closer “Blindblindblind” being well-representative of Menuck’s and the band’s dissatisfaction with the state of the world. Menuck wants “punks in the palace” to counter the futility of the governments  and he is sickened by the decision makers and major players in society—‘the hangman’s got a hard-on, the pretty minstrels sway/the pundit reeks of coffin/the banker rapes a maid’. Menuck handles language deftly, painting disturbing pictures of these fractured, uneasy times, a streak of hope and beauty shooting through the roiling, festering music, in perfect counterpoint. Though heavy-handed lyrics and ominous proclamations can be tiresome and often too taxing on the arms of music that bears them, the sheer artistry of SMZ makes the band’s messages endurable.