There’s much to celebrate about Pissing Stars, the second solo LP – out today on Constellation Records – from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion co-founder Efrim Manuel Menuck. Let it be celebrated, then: this is an underworld and understated tour-de-force, a patchwork-ish collection of ambient compositions whose sense of dread and drone calls to mind some of Menuck’s earliest work. But it’s also brilliant for reasons Menuck hasn’t really been brilliant before. Calling to mind, at times, a basement Scott Walker, Pissing Stars works on a scale far smaller than much of what crescendo-crazed Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans might come to expect, and its willingness to take chances and dwell in the sonically obscure (and, yes, sometimes miss targets) is downright shocking, especially given how much form and formula a GY!BE record like last year’s Luciferean Towers exhibits.

Much of the record is about the texture of minutia, the way a sound can evolve when engulfed by dissonance. Though Menuck, in press materials, suggests grand connections between Pissing Stars and the romance of an American celebrity and the son of an arms dealer, the theses herein work hard at staying small. The funereal “The Beauty Of Children And The War Against The Poor” might make some big pronouncements about the priorities of the Western world but what really sets the stage is a dirgish and profoundly subtle piano motif and the murmuring, sometimes slighted, of electronic pulses. “Black Flags Ov Thee Holy Sonne,” the wonderfully epic, nine-minute-long opener, concerns itself with drones and interjected shards of noise-color. “A Lamb In The Land of Payday Loans,” a departure, has an inside-out anthemic quality, no doubt, but the song that follows it, the beautiful “LxOxVx/Shelter In Place,” is a sea of heavily processed bass and guitar whose driving, though drummer-less, refrains give way to a mouthful of white noise. The closing title track might exhibit even hints of pop sentiment – it’s just tough to make it out from beneath the layers of wondrous grime and fuzz Menuck heaps all over it.

There are lesser compositions – “The Lion-Daggers of Calais” is interesting but doesn’t develop or breathe or generate heat the way other tracks here do – but, all in all, Pissing Stars is a sturdy collection, a fitting sequel to Menuck’s first solo LP, 2011’s Plays “High Gospel.” It all, though, for me, boils down to that opener, “Black Flags,” where Menuck whimpers in borderline-falsetto over minimal, though distorted, guitars or unfurls, on loop, an almost Old Testament-worthy bit of prayer-moan that swells into drone. This is magical and difficult and sometimes downright ugly music, and Menuck delivers it in self-serious tones, honoring the noise as much as Godspeed You! Black Emperor once honored the sound of running off the rails. A great record for the droning, dying light in all of us.