Friday, November 21, 2008

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship

Posted this on Fone Culture last night:

(L-R, Trevor Naud and LTD)

Back in June I leaked some early mixes of Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship, a new project of my good friend Trevor Naud in collaboration with Pas/Cal drummer LTD. (I hesitate to mention that Trevor is kin because I don't want to imply that my fascination with his music is in some way pro-rated by my affection for him as a person. The majesty of Trevor's gift is wide and timeless and I just happen to know him.) And now, I have the final album in my hands and I need to talk about it.

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship is like some rare exotic flower that flourishes in the secret dark and contains double helices of hallucinogenic gunpowder entwined deep in its stems if you know how to unleash it. Trevor told me he made it in a period of extreme personal blockage. No doubt, part of that frustration was with his own band, Zoos of Berlin, who, with over four years of stunning gigs and avant-garde alchemy under their belts have yet to produce a full-length album (there is every indication that dawning of the Zoos long player is finally nigh). So Trevor set up some mics and a computer in his kitchen and made this in a season. His impatience emerges in the ADD'ness of it all, the quick-acting brevity and the conjuring of swift, but complete, worlds of sound. They are less songs than glints of melodic hooks strung together like Christmas lights to form a shimmering path. The best way to listen is to avoid grasping - just let the vignettes fly by fully formed in their warbled and buttery baroque shapes.

HGBS came out more gentle than early mixes suggested. The first mp3 Trevor slipped me last summer was "A Head For Gabriel Dove," two and a half minutes of compression-crushed jazz drumming and reverb-soaked baritone that was as carnivorous as it was surging. But a listen to the finished record shows something much more haunted than hunting. It is a quiet anxiety slowed into sadness, more in keeping with the winter around me and things falling into sleep and death. It's a pop requiem for emotional shut-ins and the spiritually claustrophobic.

Fans of Scott Walker, David Bowie, Arthur Russell and Eric Matthews - in other words, artists trying to repossess dead rock forms with the jagged spirits of 20th century classical and avant garde - will come pre-primed for going deep with these tracks. But it doesn't require some kind of exclusive, arty membership to respond to something this gorgeous and immediate. It's very tuneful, very lucid stuff.

As far as I know he's currently figuring out the terms of the record's release. Go bug him about it.

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Glass Case"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Jonaccce"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Nineteenth Usher"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "A Head for Gabriel Dove"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Once Outside"

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