Yes, that is 16 minutes long, deal with it because it is totally worth the time investment.
The opener to the debut album of a band who fail to grasp the concept of ‘brief’, this is perhaps the definitive Godspeed song. Long, dark, ominous, dramatic, cinematic, sweeping, redemptive, thunderous, immense, awe-inspiring. It is a song of many things, one that sounds like the darkest Western you’ve ever seen mixed with the soundtrack to the aftermath of the apocalypse. From the gruffly read screenplay that accompanies the opening to the haunting strings to the jangling guitars that echo back through the whole song, everything in this song oozes atmosphere and tonal perfection. It is at once beautiful and utterly despairing, yet still never sounds hopeless or self-indulgent in its darkness.
Divided into a series of segments each around 6 or so minutes, each one combines to an overall piece that is epic in scale. This next statement may sound like an oxymoron but I assure you it isn’t – it’s incredible how much they pack into 16 minutes. The closing two minute sequence in particular is just incredible. If I could have any one piece of music loop around my head for the rest of my life it would be a serious, serious contender. And, neatly enough, the original vinyl pressing of F#A#Infinity almost does just that with a locked groove for the final four minutes of the album that continue into, well, infinity. The whole segment is just ridiculously pretty sounding and a perfect climax to an otherwise fairly gloomy piece, a light at the end of a long, long tunnel. Frankly that two minute segment is, even on it’s own, one of the best sounds of the past quarter-century. There are bands with whole careers that never add up to anything even close to those 2 minutes.
Songs like this prove that, really, when it comes down to it, pretty much every other post-rock band stands in the shadow of Godspeed. Even fellow legends Mogwai just get blown out of the water here and that is no disrespect to a very, very good band. They just can’t compete though, and it’s almost unfair that they have to.