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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.


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