Damon and Naomi: With Ghost

With Ghost
Damon and Naomi
Sub Pop
5 Sep 2000

Complex, highly literate, melodically and harmonically brilliant, poignant, sad, beautiful, personal, detached, disturbing, strange, compelling, trance-like, soft, masterful, passionate, understated, message-filled, powerful, present, dynamic, psychedelic, mind altering, symbiotic, serious, introspective, ambiguous, laser-sharp, intelligent, nonethnocentric as well as masterfully arranged, performed and produced are just a few words to describe the latest Sub Pop release from this Cambridge-based duo who once formed the rythym section of the critically acclaimed Galaxie 500.

If you are intelligent, buy only the best recordings in the alternative pop genre, and are not easily impressed, this CD is for you. And everybody else too.

Majestic, swirling mellotron and strings fuel the simple acoustic guitars and piano arrangements on most of the tracks. The lyrics are the most literate of 2000. You could hold these lyrics up as significant poetry. The real stuff. You know, Whitman, Byron, Shelley. Not Pete, but Percy. You know, the English guy from hundreds of years ago, not the guy from the Buzzcocks. Seriously, Sub Pop should submit the lyrics to whomever judges poetry as literature. This pair, along with their Japanese friends, Ghost, are writing lyrics in another league here.

Placed like delicate Christmas ormaments on a shimmering Christmas tree, the lyrics and overall arrrangements sparkle like stars in a clear sky while looking up on your back in a remote field far away from anyone or anything except your thoughts.

“The Mirror Phase” is about a famous Ike and Tina Turner gun battle with Phil Spector. The composition is marked by Strings and Sonic Splendor. “The New World” features chanting monks and guitar arpeggios. I’ll call it non-denominational religious music. “Judah and the Maccabees” poignant observations by Damon on Manhattan’s Lower East Side related to his family history. “Blue Moon”, the Big Star song, is the perfect cover for this recording, with its sparse arrangement and powerful delivery. The mellotrons slay me.

“The Great Wall” is a slow, mood piece which refers lyrically to Kafka’s postulations that The Great Wall was the first truly secure foundation for a New Tower of Babel. “The Great Wall” has an outro that is so rousing that you feel it from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. “I Dreamed of the Caucasus” has a beautiful, soaring chorus that swirls and sends you away as if you were on magic carpet. Close your eyes on this one, and think of the pleasant aspects of when you have had one too many, lying in bed with your eyes closed.

I cannot do justice in words to this one. You have to hear it. Sub Pop hits another home run here, right out of the ball park. If you purchase this, let it seep into you slowly. I really *felt* the recording, and I think you will too. This is soft, literary pop at its absolute finest.