Tuesday, May 19, 2009

not new music tuesdays/half-ass show review: Ghost

Ghost - Lama Rabi Rabi (1996, Drag City)

Mrs Cheeks and I managed to make the trip down to Austin over the weekend to see Japan's Ghost play at the Mohawk. Though I've been a huge fan of their music since this record came out 13 years ago I have never been able to catch one of their shows, so to say that I was pretty jazzed about going would be a tremendous understatement.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a band that, over the course of eight wildly eclectic albums, has probably included close to twenty members (there is no way that I'm going to look at all the albums and get the exact count). They played as the six piece that recorded last year's In Stormy Nights album, including the inimitable Michio Kurihara on guitar, who has also played with the likes of White Heaven and Boris. Overall it was a rock oriented set with a few forays into free-form improv that drew equally from all of the band's records. It was nice to see electrified versions of old 'classics' like 'Orange Sunshine,' 'Sun is Tangging,' and 'Marrakech,' among others. The only real issue that I had was the fact that the show was originally supposed to be outside, but due to weather was moved indoors. There were too many people for such a small space, forcing us to see a few songs from the bar area before making it into the room that the band was actually playing in.

I'm not sure why they didn't play locally. Following a brief tour in 2004 in support of their well received Hypnotic Underground album, the band vowed not to return to the States until then President George W. Bush was out of office. I personally believe that dislike for a country's head of state is a pretty shitty reason to deprive your fans of a chance to see you play, especially when most of them share the same opinion about the guy. Maybe they didn't want to play in Dallas because old W resides here now, who knows?

The album showcased this week for NNMT was their first for Drag City, and fourth overall. Lama Rabi Rabi is probably the most balanced of all the albums, with the group's rock, folk and drone/meditative sides all displayed fairly equally.

Ghost's back catalog is getting increasingly harder to find in it's physical form, so I thought I'd be a nice guy and include the tracks from their two 1995 7 inches, Moungod Air Cave (live) b/w Guru in the Echo (live) and Holy High b/w Filament, released on The Now Sound and Holy Mountain respectively.


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