A couple of years ago, I wrote a love letter to What.cd, the defunct and legendary private torrent tracker. The catalogue of music being shared through the site was nearly bottomless, with plenty of extremely rare records available to be heard beyond the handful of ears they were intended for. But one release that never materialized was the first recording by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Titled “All Lights Fucked on the Hairy Amp Drooling” and recorded on just thirty-three cassette copies in 1994, it was long assumed to be entirely lost. Nevertheless, it was by far the most requested recording on What.cd.
In 2013, a Reddit user claimed to have a copy and it seemed legitimate, but they never published the whole thing. I assumed that was the closest I would ever get to hearing this long lost record, until someone posted it to the web earlier this month. But because virtually nobody had heard the thing, nobody knew whether it was real. This week, we got the answer.
Christian Eede, the Quietus:
Speaking to Vish Khanna’s Kreative Kontrol podcast, [Efrim Manuel] Menuck, who recorded the cassette mostly alone before forming the band as it’s known today, suggested he didn’t fully welcome the leak, but recognised upon hearing it that it was indeed the authentic material, and thus decided to officially release it.
Menuck had recorded the tape in 1993 for friends, distributing it among them, and selling an additional handful of copies at a show in the Canadian city of Moncton. A lack of finances prevented further distribution of the material at the time, and having formed GY!BE, he ultimately decided that he didn’t want to release it more widely as the material was made, he told Khanna, during “rough times.” He added that he’s happy for people to listen to the release now, even if it’s “not the Godspeed you know.”
It is completely different from even Godspeed’s first full-length release, but it is interesting to finally hear it regardless. It is now available on Bandcamp, and that episode of Khanna’s podcast is worth listening to for a fuller context, and for Menuck’s explanation of the title.