Saturday, November 14, 2009
Ghost - Tune In, Turn on, Free Tibet
More from these Japanese psychprog dementors led by the larger than life Masaki Batoh.
"Conceived as a companion release to Snuffbox -- the two albums were released within a few weeks of each other and share some art -- Free Tibet is definitely much more the socially forceful flipside to that lovely album. The same core five-person lineup records here, but as photos and an impassioned essay from the liaison office of the Dalai Lama demonstrate, the goal is what's stated right in the title. Given Batoh's open inspiration, spiritually and musically, from that region, recording what amounts to both a celebration and call to action makes perfect sense. Certainly Ghost aren't interested in simply recording a tribute to Tibetan music -- while the opening track "We Insist" starts with various Tibetan wind instruments, the focus is on Batoh, who speaks rather than sings, his words distorted heavily, the effect almost that of a government official dictating one's fate. The same sense of beautiful serenity that so often pervades Ghost's work is more than clear here -- all it takes is a listen to the grand "Way of Shelkar" to show that, its blend of Batoh, guitars, keyboards, and other instruments achieving a wondrous calm. Other songs like "Lhasa Lhasa" and "Change the World" deliver the key message with the same sweet grace. The album climaxes with the mind-blowing title track, the longest thing the group has ever done at over half an hour long. Whether it was carefully planned or a jam session, it's a stunner, ranging from acoustic gentility to percussion craziness to nuclear-strength electric roars, sometimes switching from one section to another on a dime. There's one interesting link to Snuffbox in terms of music -- as on that album, Ghost here salute a musical forebear, in this case Tom Rapp. His Pearls Before Swine track "Images of April" gets a stripped-down, softly whispered cover here, both a worthy tribute to the original and a showcase for Batoh's own considerable work."- Ned Raggett