Thursday, October 20, 2011

TV Ghost - Mass Dream (2011) REVIEW

Honestly, I've been a bit lazy lately, I'm late, sure, so I go with the best of them, in my humble opinion of course, and "Mass Dream" by the four guys from Lafayette, Indiana of all places TV Ghost is among them. The band took their name from the phenomenon of analog television frequency disturbances, and disturbed they definitely sound, mostly the insanely demented frontman Tim Gick, whose vocals stand somewhere between some psychotic Echo and The Bunnymen's Ian McCullough, 16 Horsepower/Woven Hand's David Eugene Edwards or Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Cramps' late Lux Interior while some very upfront backing vocals are sometimes close to earlier Certain General. The music is harder to reference, one could think of The Scientists and The Cramps, some Pere Ubu, some Nations of Ulysses, even some The Birthday Party while sounding like none of them. The shrewd reader can already notice that their main influences are mainly rooted in the Post-Punk idiom of the eighties performed with the energy of hardcore and a tinge of Gothic to add some darkness to it all.

Nowadays, there is no way to avoid that ubiquitous 80s revival, it's pandemic, the virus is everywhere, but here and there some nice things emerge. Truth has to be told, the 80s, for all its horrendous clothes, haircuts and most of the awful pop music, were also one of the last really creative decades music-wise, and the punk movement and its ramifications are still influencing contemporary artists even if some would deny it. Nevertheless a band like TV Ghost almost sounds anachronistic, this album would have been recorded in 1980 and rediscovered today, no one would notice. But it doesn't matter, there is still places for new bands doing this stuff, surely when it's done with such genuine authenticity (sic). Those guys ain't drowned into some nostalgy, or maybe they are, but that teenage angst of that decade has never found a better medium than punk, hardcore and all that jazz, and there's something in our today's very troubled time which isn't that far from the despair and that "no future" anti-ideology which bloomed 30 years ago, so why not doing some noise, bring on the cacophony and scream your lungs out with a large wink to a somewhat comparable past, when the Nuclear thread wasn't a joke, when the market collapsed after the oil crisis and when aids reared its ugly head, what is really so different nowadays. So there's a connection here. And there's no new musical movement to channel that angst. But anyways.

Now, my fellow readers could be spooked concerning the aptly titled "Mass Dream", well you should be spooked, this is the spooky blog, but not for the bad reasons. This album is not all rage, noise and pure chaos, it contains great songs, fine riffs, unexpected melodies and crashing rhythms, a hell lot of them, if in a sludgy hyper energetic way, while not without subtleties and variations. One surprise element is the rather prominent and imaginative use of strident vintage analog synths which are meandering like bats between the guitars, the drums and the vocals all through the eleven songs, this helps to make "Mass Dream" a ride through different dark and lugubrious landscapes full of violence and doom, a nightmarish experience at time, terrifying too. The cynical would add "terrifying like some Vincent Price movies" and I won't deny it, there's something old-fashioned, grandiloquent and even pathetic, surely in the overly emotional lead vocals, but it's an album that needs some suspension of disbelief to be fully appreciated. And believe me, there's more energy in this ghost than in your TV.

"Mass Dream" is TV Ghost's second album, the first one "Cold Fish" (2009) is a little gem of dirty neurotic punk which sounds like barbed wire through your skull, 10 chaotic songs wrapped up in 25 minutes : a strong suggestion and you can listen to it here.

7.5 out of 10

  • Cold Fish (2009) - 7

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