“One of Japan’s most lauded underground units makes a rare Tokyo appearance!”
Opening the show with an experimental improvisation, Ghost displayed their credentials as one of Japan’s veteran experimental bands. Touching faintly on the edges of psychedelic jazz, the opening experiment had a professional quality to it. It was apparent that they had been experimenting for many years and could slip comfortably into a chaotic bowl of psychedelic stew. From this opening statement, the band rebuilt themselves and showed an understanding of where their music comes from. As the instruments fell into place and songs grew out of the experimental exclamation, the audience could understand that Ghost had traveled long and far through musical possibilities before arriving at their current sound.
Some songs were soft expressions of lying in the grass on a sunny day twirling a flower in the bright light of the sun. Wearing a tie die shirt, of course. Other songs took you down a dark winding path of snarling trees and a howling electronic wind that seemed to pull you deeper and deeper into a horror that could only exist in absolute darkness. Some songs had a more straightforward rock and roll feel to them. Non-traditional tunings, odd time signatures and a constant emphasis on electronics kept their sound interesting. The combination of these electronics with instruments such as the flute gave an interesting complexity to the music and allowed for a signature sound.
I often felt like Ghost was straight out of 1968. Apart from dated technology, Ghost’s act would have fit in and added another dimension to the psychedelic scene of the late 60’s. Yet, somehow their music stays relevant today. They command quite a bit of respect from their fans and have a dedication to evolving their music.
Ghost’s DVD, Metamorphosis, shows the band’s evolution quite clearly. For over a decade, Ghost could have been called and experimental noise ensemble. Musical experiments would take place in temples and “unknown places” and consist of psychedelic “freak outs”. Calling their music “freak outs” might be a little superficial, but it sounded like chaotic avant-trash spewed from raw emotion and translated into raw noise. It was sometimes questionable if they even knew how to play their instruments (in the conventional way). However, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. These experiments and total lack of convention allowed the band to explore vast sonic possibilities. Spending over a decade exploring, Ghost maintains a veteran status within this field of musical experimentation. A PhD in psychedelic experimental freaka.
However, the band went through a metamorphosis and now has a jam-rock sensibility. I’m not sure if this existed in past, but Ghost’s current music has a strong emphasis on song writing, structure and precision. Improvisation exists, but within a defined groove and a unified theme. I think because of Ghost’s “PhD” in psychedelic experimental freaka, they maintain such a high level of respect from their peers and fans. The vast amount of time they spent experimenting gave them a knowledge base of what it means to be music. What is noise. What is music. Timbre. Tone. Rhythm. Instrumentation. All of these things have been stripped to their bare definitions and all possibilities explored before being integrated into a comprehensive composition.
I have no doubt that Ghost will continue to evolve and maintain their status as “one of Japan’s most lauded underground units.”