The Austin Chronicle

Ghost Discography

May 15, 2009, Music

Ghost (1990)

Enthralling introduction to Ghost's mystical seduction, steeped in leader Masaki Batoh's organic singer-songwriter fare ("I've Been Flying"), with flute flourishes from Taishi Takizawa. Originally released by PSF Records and reissued in 1997 by Chicago indie Drag City, Ghost's eponymous debut takes a collective approach, amounting to Tibetan drones ("Moungod Te Deum," "Moungod Radiant Youth") and sweeping communal jam "Guru in the Echo." "Sun Is Tangging" suggests Skip Spence's Oar.

Second Time Around (1992)

The only Ghost album to be sung entirely in English expands on the more autumnal qualities of the band's debut, with the whispered intrigue of "Forthcoming From the Inside," acoustic jazz caress "Mind Hill," and Celtic lore of "Higher Order" capturing the then-quintet at its most somber and reflective. STA owes much to the British folk revival, particularly the stand-alone rave-up "Orange Sunshine."

Lama Rabi Rabi (1996)

Notable for the entrance of electric guitarist Michio Kurihara, Lama Rabi Rabi (which translates roughly as "monk porridge") raises its freak-folk flag with opening wordless incantation "Masttillah," though the resultant disc hits and misses thereafter. Highlights include the acid-psych mantra "Rabirabi" and the fleeting, phantasmal folk of "Into the Alley," eclipsed only by 11-minute crescendo "Agate Scape," which comes on like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as viewed from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Snuffbox Immanence (1999)

Ghost's Houses of the Holy, a stunning collection of pastoral folk – expressed in both English (the trumpet-accented "Regenesis") and Japanese ("Soma," "Hanmiyau") – and voltaic psych epics ("Fukeiga," "Snuffbox Immanence"). Focal points range from the ruminative classicalism of "Daggma" and idyllic instrumental "Tempera Tune" to a searing translation of the Rolling Stones' "Live With Me."

Tune In, Turn On, Free Tibet (1999)

Passive resistance at its finest, this fiercely political companion piece to Snuffbox Immanence comprises mostly peaceful, acoustic-based protest music that incorporates elements of traditional Tibetan music and showcases the lighter flourishes of Batoh's vox and Kurihara's brushstroke guitar ("We Insist," "Comin' Home"), including a pacifying read of Tom Rapp's "Images of April." The closing title track unfolds a glorious 33-minute overture of glistening Krautrock repetitions and holy, sonic terror.

Damon & Naomi With Ghost (2000)

This elegant exploration of universal melancholy casts Ghost as arranger and spiritual backdrop for Damon & Naomi's most intimate work, with Kurihara's weeping-willow guitar shading "The Mirror Phase" and eradicating the relentless yearning of "The Great Wall." The two camps find remarkable common ground in Big Star's "Blue Moon" and the Nico-modeled "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce," not to mention the Buddhist chants calming "The New World."

Hypnotic Underworld (2004)

Opening with a four-part purgatorial sojourn of Oriental solemnity ("God Took a Picture of His Illness on This Ground"), exploratory jazz fusion ("Escaped and Lost Down in Medina"), 1970s prog-rock ("Aramaic Barbarous Dawn"), and percussive climax ("Leave the World!"), Hypnotic Underworld capsules Ghost's strongest work. Check out the Far Eastern slant on sedated Afrobeat ("Ganagmanag") and complete reimagining of Syd Barrett's "Dominoes – Celebration for the Gray Days."

In Stormy Nights (2007)

Bookends "Motherly Bluster" and "Grisaille" form an elliptical loop of Japanese folk that envelops tympani-led, ceremonial-psych marches ("Water Door Yellow Gate," "Gareki No Toshi"). Centerpiece "Hemicyclic Anthelion" is a near-30-minute collage of improvised, hurricane-watch ambience and turbulent free jazz, culled from numerous live performances and edited together by Batoh.

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