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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Damon & Naomi - 'with Ghost' (Sub Pop)

The post-Galaxie career of Damon & Naomi is a gentle, beautiful one - they've made some great records, though none really as memorable as More Sad Hits, which I don't have, but this collaboration with Ghost ain't too shabby.  I remember D&N as being a more mellow, downbeat, and minimal group that Galaxie 500, but the opening cut of this ('The Mirror Phase') sounds almost exactly like the song 'Tell Me' from On Fire, except with slightly more ethereal vocals and an updated production from Kramer's whole thing.  Ghost isn't really on this record - just 3 of them - but to many, Masaki Batoh and Michio Kurihara ARE the meaty part of Ghost, and they're both here.  Despite the presence of a bitingly psychedelic Japanese psych band, D & N keep things pretty genteel.  Batoh limits himself to acoustic guitar, making this resemble his Ghost in the Darkened Sea record far more then the orange one with the long name.  And Ghost's more prog-rock tendencies, which really stuck out at me the one time I saw them live, are completely absent.  This is much more a Damon & Naomi record and the Japanese presence barely warrants the title this CD gets, but it's a wonderful balance.  It's only really the penultimate track, 'Tanka', where sounds converge into a large, powerful ball of magic - but even still, it's not a particularly dissonant one, and it doesn't overstay it's welcome.  Most of the tracks exist in a folk-pop strumniverse that recalls other artists at times - for example 'The New World' has shades of the Sallyangie - and actually has two covers   'Blue Moon' is the umpteenth cover of Alex Chilton but the melancholy is cut, quite a bit actually, especially compared to the His Name is Alive version I've listened to so many times.  Tim Hardin's 'Eulogy to Lenny Bruce' closes the disc with the lowest energy, most restrained psychedelic freakout that I can think of - it's repetitive and trippy, but it's laid back to the point that when it ends - with the slightest energy from Kurihara - I barely noticed.

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