Friday, July 9, 2010

Second Time Around - (1992)

Ghost's second album, released one year after their self-titled debut, saw a slight shift in the lineup, with Krishna replaced by Iwao Yamazaki on percussion. Guest performer Kazuo Ogino also became permanent, introduced with his Celtic harp on the opening "People Get Freedom," while multi-instrumentalist Takizawa and bassist/singer Kohji Nishino remain from Ghost's debut. As always, Batoh remained the center around which everyone revolved, with even more eerily beautiful and powerful music than before. All members were credited with a large number of percussion instruments, from bell tree and Tibetan bells to "some nameless bells and stones," further intensifying the aura of ancient and mysterious rites that hangs through Ghost's music. The blend of influences both Western and Eastern results in a series of fine syntheses, perhaps even stronger than on Ghost. "Higher Power," with oboe and finger cymbals among other things, and "First Drop of the Sea," which could almost be a calmer Scott Walker number from the late '60s, both capture this sense of broad listening to grand effect. Batoh can be as straightforward as he chooses, as on the title track. He almost sounds a bit like Bowie in lighter cabaret mode (an approach he generally maintains throughout the record) even while the acid folk atmosphere gently kicks along, sometimes with quiet drama in the arrangements. When the band fully kicks in, as on the rolling "Forthcoming from the Inside," everything achieves powerful heights as a result. His lyrics throughout are often quite striking — his images are ceremonious, seeking the spiritual amid the mundane, and more often than not, make a lot more sense than the fuzzier hoo-hah coming from his West Coast psych/Krautrock forebears. (

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