PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Glass Ghost: Idol Omen

Dan Johnson

Like the soundtrack to a helium lounge or some terrible moist, mid-21st century juke joint, Idol Omen straddles the line between a creepy dirge and tacky decadence.


Album Name: Idol Omen
Artist Name: Glass Ghost
Label: Western Vinyl
US Release Date: 2009-10-27
UK Release Date: 2009-10-27

The Brooklyn-based duo’s dull patterns and tattered collages are dingy and disturbing. Something immediately strikes me as off. Maybe it’s the falsetto echo of vocals, or the rambling melodies that track through the album. In the end, the album sounds like the makings of a bad trip. The eight tracks feel like watching old wallpaper peel off the back wall of your favorite pitch black den of vice at 3 PM on a Monday, only to reveal more layers of kitschy patterns and long forgotten times. Haunting, terrifying, and vaguely off-putting, Idol Omen seems malign and difficult to comprehend.

When I say I thought I was having a stroke while I listened to this album, I don’t mean it as a detractor. In fact, the decision to give in to the tilt-o-whirl of jarring keys, aneurism vocals, and trash can beats was one of the wisest I could have made. Nevertheless, somewhere between the melodic counterparts “Time Saving Trick” and “Mechanical Life” that open the album, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Idol Omen was intended as a disturbing counter-statement to the clean lines and bouncy captivity of pop electronica.

Keyboard-heavy and mixed with the jungle patterns of complex sleety electronica, the album sounds more and more like the pale, dull-faced mannequin that stares off-kilter out of the CD jacket. Even the relatively chipper “The Same” lapses into a catatonic emotional void. As I listen for the first time, I begin to suspect the album orbits on the axis of emotional detachment. Like a burlesque anthem for the Oxycontin age, it is filled with a distant anticipation for a climax that will never arrive. It seems intent on all manner of sonic stimulation that achieve a collective malaise of disinterest.

Eliot Krimsky. The mastermind behind Glass Ghosts -- Keyboardist, collaborator, and vocalist -- seems the keystone in the band’s equation of apathy rock. His sleepy and high bent vocals fail to belie any emotion. Like the narration to a terrible fever dream, he is robotic, unsympathetic, and ever-present in melodic phrases that repeat with nightmarish frequency. 3,000 miles away, and I can feel him staring at me with glazed over eyes. His words are creepy in their inhuman timbre and range. I am at track 5, the sympathetic emotionally cathartic “Like A Diamond”, and I can begin to feel him worming beneath my skin.

“Violence”. When I see the curious title for track 6, I am initially hopeful. The comparably punchy beat on the track is vaguely reminiscent of the kind of violence I am accustomed to. Instead, the song takes a blithe stance on the inevitability and importance of violence in our social organism, and echoes with a dull resignation for the process. At nearly two and a half minutes, the song is short and its pixie dust crescendo leaves me hungry for more.

I begin to wonder what Krimsky and drummer Mike Johnson are like angry. Stomping and huffing with a pointed indignance, they resolve to make music that changes the world. They stand excitedly on the furniture in the room, stark raving mad, before settling back down in their previous positions and lighting two American Spirits.

I half expect the album to climax with a wild shriek or the rattling of a pill bottle. Instead, I am treated to “What I’ve Seen” and the creatively titled “Ending”. What ensues is the mellow no man’s land that has occupied the previous 20 minutes of my ear space. Intriguing sounds and vocals and drums and wild orgies of sensation blur together in a thick, lukewarm stew of Brooklyn attitude.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.