Sunday, May 17, 2009

the black ghosts - the black ghosts

It is rather shameful to admit that I completely passed The Black Ghosts by when they first emerged... introduced to 'Something New', which was a rather jaunty tune with a pleasing discordant chord opening, nonetheless it (unfortunately) came across as rather insipid outside the context of its encompassing album (although in place it makes perfect sense).  It took an opening song to a recent low-budget film with lame (ahem) sparkly vampires to ignite that fatal interest....  A little bit of research and it emerges that the 'Ghosts are formed from the smouldering ashes of Simian (splitting into two with Simian Mobile Disco being the most obvious link), a band who exists virtually in my collection and is virtually never played, being a bit too day-glo and sickly sweet for more melancholy tastes.  The Black Ghosts are, however, leaning more towards this vein; despite the high energy forced into dance-able tracks like 'Repetition kills you' and 'Anyway you choose to give it' there is a certain fragility in the arrangements - a sense of loss underlying the optimism - that keeps it interesting, a vibe that hangs together upon the wistful, yet fortunately not so cloying, vocals of singer Simon Lord (he seems to have lost most of the affectation he employed in Simian although there is an ill-advised lapse into cockerney at times).  Damon Albarn also appears but I am not sure he adds much in the way of interest (meow!)  In terms of the songs... there is a certain schizoid nature at work here; if you heard some of these songs randomly you would hardly link the two together.  Take 'Full Moon' (from said sparkly-vamp-fest) which could be from the pen of a folk group, all lilting guitars and throbbing bass speaking of the earth and pine trees, immediately followed by 'I don't know' which was made for all I know by intelligent computers and robots manipulating synth pads, only the voice recognisably human (and even then you would hardly link the Simon 'here' with the lushly-tracked Simon 'before').  Both have in common that they are ridiculously catchy.  Gloriously dramatic to open, 'Some way through this' is aching to be the soundtrack to bleeding hearts, however in the next breath 'Anyway you choose to give it' revels in the obsession caused by love - although the narrator is of sufficient presence of mind to almost resent their paramour for causing this parlous state - to what must be one of the most criminally underrated disco stomps this century (it's not the kind of thing I hear at the disco anyway when it should be!)  As well as disco, the 'Ghosts also reveal a well-raided musical styles sheet, managing smooth ('It's your touch'), funky ('Until it comes again') guest singers ('Repetition kills you') and ballads ('Don't cry').  It all builds for the cataclysmic final blow-out - 'Face' - constructed around the repetitious call to arms 'you've got to face the music', underpinned with basic killer beat and 80s throwback synth crunches that makes my heart skip with excitement and notch up the volume.  One to play as loud as you dare in the hope that the neighbours will lap it up with grateful pleasure.

The video for 'Anyway you choose to give it' , which sort of goes with the idea that it's made by computers or robots!

For comparison purposes, 'LaBreeze' by Simian....

...and the brilliant 'I Believe' by Simian Mobile Disco (you might recognise the singer)