Band members from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Broken Social Scene and the Silver Mount Zion comprise Valley of the Giants. Apparently serving as an alternate soundtrack to the Michael Crichton's 1973 spaghetti sci-fi movie Westworld, this is a desolate, windswept masterpiece.
"Claudia & Klaus" simmers against a sunset-stained horizon, with lap-steel and strings creating tension and release simultaneously--in sum, a glorious introduction to a fistful of doleful experimentalism.
"Westworld" is one of only two almost-pop constructions in which Diedre Smith's girlish voice lilts seductively over a slow, thumping drum-and-bass groove. Out of nowhere, "Cantara Sin Guitara" dusts off the horn and woodwind section for some klezmer-coated cacophony, followed by "Beyond the Valley," which revels in its haunting, get-a-long-little-Moog-organ lines.
Which brings us to the least successful experiments: "Whaling Tale," which can only be described as Jacques Cousteau attempting to impersonate Rod Serling as he recounts the odd story of a penguin abducted by bloodthirsty killer whales, and the irritating spazz-rock of "Back to God's Country." Interesting songs to be sure, but out of sorts among the more "musical" tracks.
Fortunately, "Bala Bay Inn" serves as a balm. Indeed, its gorgeous, drug-fueled apocalypse will allow America's mythic landscape to linger in your mind.