Ghost LIVE DVD + CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers

Film / Video Reviews
Ghost LIVE DVD + CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
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Sep 9, 2007, 23:57

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GHOST Overture: Live in Nippon Yusen Soko 2006 DVD + CD

Improvised music can not only highlight one's own talents and nuances but also teach insight and patience in the musicians and audience alike. The players feed off of each other's motions and signals, a learned language all its own, and has the ability to create moving masterpieces or, in the worst case scenario, a cacophonous fruit salad of trash. This teetering on the edge of collapse makes the act exciting and extremely dangerous. Ghost ups the ante with the CD/DVD Overture by changing the rules of improvisation itself.

Setting up in Bank Art Studio NYK, formerly Nippon Yusen Soko, a warehouse for mail boats, they placed the musicians on opposite sides of the massive room and shielded them from each other, and the audience, with floor to ceiling curtains which prevented them from making eye contact with one another, leaving nothing but the sounds themselves to feed and direct the next action. The crowd, now locked inside (once the door closed, no one was permitted to enter or exit until the performance ended), nestled in the middle of it all with only the lighting team, Overheads, to enthrall and mystify the experience ten-fold with their swirling colors, patterns, and mash-ups—all in response to the sounds being heard, sat motionless, save for one young man constantly milling about in a near dream-state.

The banging iron door at the start heralds the beginning with a fright and in the blackness only surprises linger. Masaki Batok, leader and only original Ghost member, begins with the taps, squeaks, and moans to soon be answered by Junzo Tateiwa (drums, cymbals, tabla-baya), Taishitakizawa (saxophones, flute, tin whistle, bells), Michio Kurihara (electric guitar), Takuyuki Moriya (contra bass), and Kazuo Ogino (lute, piano, kaval, recorders). Japanese characters climb and fall with the swells, now building with intensity. A clang here signals a slight change in the bass over there, but everything is breathing together—a machine is made with only the vital parts working together to create movement. The plot-driven ache excites, saddens, and questions the open ears, “Who is really free?”

One of many pivotal moments occurs at the twenty-minute mark when the Hitchcock-esque piano lingers in the air until, sensing vertigo, spirals down the stairs, leaving the laughing saxophone to tell the rest of the story. A little later, after everything has quieted to a metallic whisper, melodic marching pushes one headfirst into the beast's mouth, sucking out the nutrients, as the meal is laid to rest deep in a carnivorous gut where only the heartbeat can be heard. A level of calm surrounds and a feeling of temporary nirvana envelops, numbing the listener so as to take out all knowledge of music and feeling to replace it with a new standard. The saxophone again plays a key role in heralding a new arrival, the arrival of the new you. When Overture nears completion, all of the ideas seem to meld together in a fireworks display of religious magnitude. Things are falling, rising, crashing, prodding, melting, molding, and welcoming simultaneously. Dizzying, yes, but also rewarding. It is only at the very end, when everything from the beginning is being replayed, that you realize it is music, a truly singular music that you've been listening to this whole time.Â

The meditative air is definitely present, but whether or not one experiences “Tainaimeguri” of Buddhism (figuratively entering the womb), as it is meant to evoke, is up to the listener. Nevertheless after distancing themselves from even their own catalogue, Ghost rewrites what is possible in music only for those that have the ears and mind to listen and celebrate it alongside them. [Drag City]

-Luc Rodgers

Filed Under: Film-DVD-VideoFilm-DVD-Video ReviewsMusicMusic Reviews

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