Ghost first came to my attention as the backing band for ex-Galaxie 500 maestros Damon & Naomi, on their timeless album "With Ghost". To this day it's an a permanent favourite, with the soft folk sounds creating a gentle, complex base for the soaring, beautiful vocals.
In Stormy Nights sees the band release their ninth album through Drag City, and Masaki Batoh leads his rotating band of followers though a varied, eclectic range of songs and styles, drawing from a diverse range of musical styles.
The opening sounds of Motherly Bluster were exactly what I was expecting, with Batoh's thick Japanese accent presiding over a textured layer of sounds and acoustic guitar. However, second track Hemicyclic Anthelion is a 28 minute marathon of experimentation that unfortunately drifts along without much focus or direction. Akin to hanging around in a late night Tokyo tube station, I rarely find myself in a situation or mood to listen to it. As a result it disrupts the flow of the album, which without it only clocks in at 5 songs / 30 minutes.
Things bang back into action with the military stomp of Water Door Yellow Gate, sounding like a Japanese Nick Cave poisoned poem. Gareki No Toshi segues on from this, with distorted shouts and sound effects sounding like a Fugazi rehearsal session (the opening of Birthday Pony is actually the track I'm thinking of - for you Fugazi heads).
Most comparable to This Mortal Coil, Ghost has much of the same eclectic feel, with strange successes (such as the rambling bagpipes on Caledonia) and unfortunate failings. Moody soundscapes and soundtracks are often misplaced, and seem at odds with each other - rather than sounding like a cohesive body of work by one artist. While the final track Grisaille brings hints of the captivating acid-folk charm that I heard on Damon & Naomi with Ghost, for the most part those moments are unfortunately often drowned out.