...One’s never clear whether Batoh and the boys are laughing into the sleeves of...
Sid Smith 2007
Aping the musical zeitgeist of the 60s has always been good for business as Paul Weller, Stereolab, Oasis and Belle and Sebastian, to name but a few, will confirm.
Whilst such accessible fields continue to be drilled and mined, the more obscure seams of that decade have also long been ripe for such exploitation. Japanese band Ghost, have been engaged in this ongoing cultural exhumation as part of the Tokyo underground scene for around 20 years. Led by multi-instrumentalist and stylistic chameleon, Masaki Batoh, (who also happens to be an acupuncturist by day) their affection for the period and its influences is obvious.
2004’s Hypnotic Underworld submerged Syd Barrett’s post-Floyd "Dominoes" into their freaky mix, and this their ninth album continues to absorb the historical vibes emanating out of "Grantchester Meadows". Much like Ummagumma, they merge bucolic charm with dotty serialism. Despite such incongruities (or perhaps because of them) it’s a palatable combination, although one’s never clear whether Batoh and the boys are laughing into the sleeves of their psychedelic shirts or not. One example perhaps is the 28-minute “Hemicyclic Anthelion”; several different live improvisations threaded into a monster collage. It might well be startling or transgressive had one never heard Can’s Tago Mago, or anything by The Third Ear Band but sounds merely contrived in comparison. Rather more convincing are the ornate ballads (both sung in English) “Motherly Bluster” and the beautiful “Grisaille”, iced with the arctic howl of Michio Kurihara’s sublime guitar, sounding like nobody but themselves.