Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (or Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven! or Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven) is the second studio album by Post-Rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor, released October 9th 2000. A Distinct Double Album clocking in at over 87 minutes, it borrows elements from ambient, noise, and drone, and consists mostly of instrumentals (There are vocal samples; their effects range from unassuming to Tear Jerker to outright Nightmare Fuel).
If Spiderland and Laughing Stock are considered the Trope Makers of Post-Rock, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven has since become its Trope Codifier, earning both praise and replication from all directions. It's either called one of the greatest albums of 2000, of the Turn of the Millennium, or of all time, being held as a shining example of symphonic songwriting with rock instrumentation.
(one)Side 1: Storm (22:32)
- "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..." (6:15)
- "Gathering Storm / Il Pleut à Mourir [+Clatters Like Worry]" (11:10)
- "'Welcome to Barco AM/PM...' [ L.A.X.; 5/14/00]" (1:15)
- "Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way" (3:52)
Side 2: Static (22:35)
- "Terrible Canyons of Static" (3:34)
- "Atomic Clock" (1:09)
- "Chart #3" (2:39)
- "World Police and Friendly Fire" (9:48)
- "[...+The Buildings They Are Sleeping Now]" (5:25)
(two)Side 3: Sleep (23:17)
- "Murray Ostril: '...They Don't Sleep Anymore on the Beach...'" (1:10)
- "Monheim" (12:14)
- "Broken Windows, Locks of Love Pt. III." (9:53)
Side 4: Antennas to Heaven (18:57)
- "Moya Sings 'Baby-O'..." (1:00)
- "Edgyswingsetacid" (0:58)
- "[Glockenspiel Duet Recorded on a Campsite in Rhinebeck, N.Y.]" (0:47)
- "'Attention... Mon Ami... Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La...' [55-St. Laurent]" (1:18)
- "She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field" (9:43)
- "Deathkamp Drone" (3:09)
- "[Antennas to Heaven...]" (2:02)
What'll we do with the tropes?:
- Boléro Effect: At least once in every track. In particular, "Sleep" is comprised of two crescendi, with the first being incredibly bleak and dirge-like, and the second being the most rapturous, joyous movement on the whole record.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: A relatively normal post-rock album, with the usual dark, movement based suites and 20 minute tracks. Then, out of nowhere, "Moya Sings 'Baby-O'..." comes on.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The street preacher sampled on "Static" is a rather disturbing example.
- Concept Album: Somewhat. Despite the lack of lyrics, it's easy to read different themes into the songs based on the samples employed, and the album as a whole has a sort of emotional arc when listened to straight through.
- Cover Version: The very first movement of "Antennas to Heaven," "Moya Sings 'Baby-O''...", is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mike Moya singing the folk song "What'll We Do with the Baby-O."
- Darkest Hour: "Static" is this for the album as a whole, with its haunting sample of a street preacher babbling about seeing the face of God followed by the most apocalyptic crescendo on the entire album, which is then followed by an immensely ominous Drone of Dread.
- Design Student's Orgasm: Both the cover and the liner notes inside, which features a diagram of the tracks detailing movement length and dynamics on each side◊ (though the times given for the movements don't line up exactly with the final mix). It also has a letter and old photos from the band, along with some neat illustrations on the inside.
- Distinct Double Album: To some extent. The third and fourth songs have a distinctly different atmosphere than the first two, despite the whole album being stylistically similar.
- Drone of Dread: Quite often. The last 5 minutes of "Static" are particularly notable in this regard.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: "Antennas to Heaven". After an hour of emotionally intense and occasionally terrifying music, this song carries a feeling of release and serenity not unlike "The Dead Flag Blues" on the band's previous album.
- To a lesser extent, the ending of "Sleep" also counts, particularly when contrasted with the incredibly bleak first half.
- Epic Rocking: Several of the movements exceed 6 minutes in length, with the longest ("Monheim") at just over 12 minutes, let alone the songs - most versions of the album just break the whole thing up into 4 songs that all approach or exceed 20 minutes in length.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Glockenspiel Duet Recorded at a Campsite in Rhinebeck, N.Y.", a glockenspiel duet which presumably was recorded at a campsite in Rhinebeck, New York. Also, "Atomic Clock" is a sample of the WWV atomic clock and "Moya Sings 'Baby-O'" is a recording of band member Mike Moya singing the folk song "What'll We Do with the Baby-O".
- Excited Show Title!: One of the alternate names.
- Eye Scream: "Every time the baby cries / I stick my fingers in the baby's eyes / That's what we do with the baby-o."
- Follow the Leader: This band's style on this album is the one most duplicated.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Described by the preacher in "Static"."And when you penetrate to the most high God, you will believe you are mad, you will believe you've gone insane...
Oh yes, there's many a man and woman that's been put in an insane asylum, and this has happened to them, and people think they're insane, but they saw something..."
- The Good Old Days: "There was no place in the world like it, like Coney Island when I was a youngster..."
- Gratuitous French: Seeing as the band are Quebecois, it's a given. Examples include the alternate title and the kids singing in "Attention... Mon Ami... Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La..."
- Gratuitous Spanish: "'Welcome to Barco AM/PM...' [ L.A.X.; 5/14/00]" contains some Spanish dialogue about, what else, welcoming to ARCO AM/PM Mini-Market."Bienvenido a ARCO AM/PM Mini-Market. Queremos aconsejarles a nuestros clientes que cualquier persona que se ofrezca a ponerle gasolina a su automóvil, lavarle las ventanas, o solicitar productos, no es empleado ni está asociado con nuestra empresa. Les pedimos que no tengan contacto con estos personajes. Favor de reportar cualquier problema al personal uniformado dentro de la empresa. Gracias por comprar en AM/PM Mini Market y tenga un buen día
- Indecipherable Lyrics: The voice sampled in "Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way" is so distorted as to be almost completely indecipherable.
- Instrumentals: Most of the album barring vocal samples.
- Jump Scare: After a segment of lingering ambiance, "She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field" rears in with an immediate barrage of instrumentation.
- Last Note Nightmare: A few examples, but "Monheim" particularly stands out, devolving into a cacophonous Drone of Dread before the guitarist plays some dissonant chords and then the whole thing collapses. Played With, though, because it transitions seamlessly into "Broken Windows, Locks of Love Pt. III", probably the most beautiful movement on the album.
- Lonely Piano Piece: The last movement of "Storm".
- Long Title: Not just the album but many of the movements, as seen above.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Moya Sings Baby-O," the first movement in "Antennas to Heaven," features Mike Moya singing a jaunty, upbeat tune about throwing an infant into a hayloft, feeding it alcohol, and stabbing its eyes out. The fact that it appears out of nowhere in the middle of a primarily instrumental symphonic post-rock record makes it even creepier.
- Madness Mantra: The monologue in "Static" could count.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Two hands floating against a brown background.
- Mood Whiplash:
- "Moya Sings Baby-O," the movement at the beginning of "Antennas to Heaven," comes out of nowhere and is a jaunty little guitar song. About abusing an infant. Afterward, the songs shifts back into the expected dark, symphonic number.
- "Storm" starts off with an incredible build-up to an almost heroic, inspiring melody ("Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..."), only to suddenly shift to something quite foreboding and intimidating ("Il pleut à mourir [+Clatters Like Worry]"), just before collapsing into pure sadness. ("Cancer Towers on Holy Road Hi-Way").
- Nostalgic Narrator: Murray Ostril in the intro to "Sleep", an elderly New Yorker who reminisces about his childhood memories of Coney Island before sadly noting how "it's shrunk down to almost nothing". He provides one of the most iconic quotes in the band's discography."They used to sleep on the beach here, sleep overnight, but they don't do it any more. Things changed, you see. They don't sleep anymore on the beach..."'
- One-Woman Wail: Not done with an actual human voice (the effect was achieved by one of the guitarists bowing their guitar strings with a screwdriver), but the first half of "Sleep" features this effect.
- Post-Rock: Considered the defining example.
- Sampling: Scattered throughout the album, but most present in "Storm."
- Shout-Out: The original name of the movement "She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field" was "John Hughes." The piece can be still found under this name on early bootlegs available on the Internet Archive.
- Textless Album Cover
- Title Drop: "They don't sleep anymore on the beach..."
- Title Track: "Antennas to Heaven" and movements entitled "Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas to Heaven..." and "[Antennas to Heaven...]"
- Word Salad Title: The names of most of the movements.
- Writing Around Trademarks / Bland-Name Product: Despite the recording sampled in the song clearly saying: "Welcome to ARCO AM/PM," the album liner notes identify the movement name as: "Welcome to Barco AM/PM... [L.A.X.; 5/14/00]." The reason why probably falls under one of these tropes.