Thursday, 26 April 2018

Ghost “Metamorphosis: Ghost Chronicles 1984-2004” 2005 Japan Psych Folk Rock,Experimental DVD + CD Compilation


Ghost “Metamorphosis: Ghost Chronicles 1984-2004” 2005 Japan Psych  Folk Rock,Experimental DVD + CD Compilation 
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A twenty-year, career-spanning collection of music and video footage from Japanese psychedelic maestros GHOST. DVD features nearly three hours of footage—improvisations, one-time-only band lineups, freakouts, trances, live shows, and more. CD features unreleased tracks from the band’s previously undocumented 1980s era, including in-studio improvs, live tracks, and a pair of outtakes from the group’s debut album….~

This CD/DVD package collects early tracks and extensive video of the psych-folk, prog-rock band.
Early last year– as part of their regular “Invisible Jukebox” department– The Wire played Damon and Naomi an early piece featuring the duo’s frequent collaborator, Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara. “I can’t believe he was doing this in ‘88,” said Damon. “And here we all were in our indie rock bands and we didn’t know.” 

Looking back, it’s safe to say that hardly anybody outside of Japan had much inkling of what Masaki Batoh and his fellow mystics in Ghost were getting up to in the late 1980s. Nor could anyone have easily predicted what a psych-folk, prog-rock colossus the group would someday become. With their origins in guerrilla street performance and ritualistic collective improvisations staged at various Tokyo-area temples, the band’s formative years seemed destined to remain in the shadows. 

Thankfully, however, that impression has changed with the release of Metamorphosis, Drag City’s astonishing new collection of Ghost audio and video rarities. Packed with more than an hour of previously unheard music and nearly two hours of unearthed video documents, Metamorphosis contains footage from virtually every chapter of the group’s existence. And though its appeal will likely be exclusively limited to those already familiar with Ghost’s inspired majesty, for the avid fan this set might possibly seem too good to be true.Comprised entirely of material dating from the years 1987-89, the CD portion of Metamorphosis showcases various early versions of Ghost as they ambitiously cast their sound about, quite audibly seeking to test their limits and capabilities. Centered around the steadfast core of charismatic leader Batoh and multi-instrumentalists Taishi Takizawa and Kazuo Ogino, the music created by these pre-Kurihara editions of the band often bears little resemblance to rock, and on the pieces collected here Ghost instead forge a potent, captivating blend of free jazz, acid folk, and traditional Japanese sounds. 

It’s difficult to guess what might’ve been informing the group’s material of this era– particularly since at points here these guys seem just a step or two removed from subsisting on twigs and lichen. But several of these improvised tracks consider the same fiery trails lit by such previous explorers as AMM or free players from the classic BYG label roster. Meanwhile, the 1988 outtake “Blood Red River” finds Batoh emoting over some bent dustbowl blues in a strange, low-pitched drawl that manages to evoke Skip Spence. 

As fascinating as most of this embryonic music on the CD is, it’s Metamorphosis’ DVD presentation that contains most of this collection’s true revelations. Featuring an abundance of live footage from various Ghost incarnations in a wide variety of venues, this disc provides a relatively succinct visual record of the group’s timeline. Though much of this video is of rather shaky quality- most of the clips feature the erratic sound, dim lighting and stationary cameras that U.S. viewers might associate with cable access programming- this is made up for by the fact that this material exists at all and we actually get to watch it. 

This video collection is rife with highlights, starting with the earliest clip from 1984 which features a skinny, shirtless Batoh staging a noisy one-man demonstration in front of Tokyo’s Chinese embassy to protest the occupation of Tibet. Other gems include a dynamite set of acoustic material recorded in a wooden Jesuit church in 1993 (the band billed itself as a “medieval music club” to get permission to play) a couple raucous tracks from 2002’s Terrastock Festival in Boston, and an extended segment of more recent material performed at a 2004 Tokyo concert. 

Another bonus video not to be missed is of a wild 1988 group performance in a busy Tokyo train station, showcasing Batoh and Ogino in full free-form wail as bemused commuters file past. As with all the best of Metamorphosis’ delights, the piece fills the viewer with immense appreciation for Ghost’s haunting alien magic, and also spurs the hope that somewhere right this instant– be it in Tokyo, Helsinki, Sao Paulo, or in your own town- another such collection of enlightened players are kicking up their own similarly beautiful racket….by Matthew Murphy…Pitchfork…~

From album to album, starting in the early '90s, Ghost showed a pretty amazing musical progression. But Ghost’s origins go back to 1984, so their recordings only tell part of the story, with their beginnings somewhat shrouded in mystery. Metamorphosis: Ghost Chronicles 1984-2004 is a fantastic package for fans as it contains a CD of previously unreleased material all from the late '80s (with a couple outtakes from the first album being the most recent) and a DVD with footage covering the entire time span, showing their incredible growth as a band as well as providing those who missed out on Ghost’s infrequent tours with a glimpse of what they’re like live. The CD is interesting, highlighting the improvisational nature of the band at that early stage. Aside from their reading of the traditional “Blood Red River,” all these tracks are improvisations and emphasize the nearly tribal, communal beginnings of the band. Many feature only drums, percussion, recorder, and voice as opposed to more traditional rock band instrumentation. Taishi Takizawa has some excellent moments on flute and sax, and the 35-plus-minute album centerpiece, “Children of the Sun,” is an amazing journey with some great piano from Kazuo Ogino and some electric freak-out guitar courtesy of Masaki Batoh. The last two tracks are the album outtakes: the aforementioned “Blood Red River” and “Cow’s Green Cosmic,” a short piece that has Batoh improvising some banjo over the sounds of two young sisters playing. 

The DVD is the truly exciting part of the package. The opening footage is not of Ghost, but of Batoh protesting the occupation of Tibet at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in 1984. After that, you get footage of Ghost performing in a variety of settings through time, in many different incarnations (Batoh claims over 100 people have been members of Ghost over the years). Much like the CD, the sequencing is not quite chronological, but serves to illustrate the progression of the band, from free-form improvisers to a more song-oriented, rock approach (though they never leave improvisation behind them completely). Some of the clips are quite brief (“Zama”), and others are a bit on the dark side (the well-titled “Marvelous Screamer”), but the vast majority of the footage is very good to excellent. Even the footage from temple performances, some lit only by candlelight, is surprisingly good. It’s interesting to note how the venue effects the performance, with the club shows demonstrating much more of a rock edge while the temple performances, not surprisingly, have a more contemplative, spiritual feel. There is also some nice visual accompaniment to a couple of the performances: an old-school oil emulsion projection inside the Waseda Salvation Church (!), and the full-on rock extravaganza lighting/visuals of the 2004 Star Pine’s Cafe footage. The 2004 footage is without doubt the high point of the DVD, as it has more performances than from any other venue; both the visuals and recordings are excellent, arguably the best of the bunch, and the band is on fire. It’s also the majority of the footage with guitar genius Michio Kurihara, and Ghost’s rhythm section at the turn of the century (Junzo Tateiwa, drums and percussion, and Takuyuki Moriya, bass) is fantastic. While the rest does vary in quality, there is nothing that’s harsh or difficult to watch or listen to because of poor fidelity. Additionally, both the CD tracks and the various filmed performances are given written descriptions in the booklet by Batoh, who displays a rather dry sense of humor that doesn’t really come through on their albums. While Metamorphosis: Ghost Chronicles 1984-2004 is an effective career overview, it isn’t really designed to be a greatest-hits package or serve as an introduction to the band; consider it an important supplement to their proper albums. This is a release for Ghost fans who want more, whether they’re interested in the early history of the band or just wonder what Ghost sounded like live at any given point in their career. Metamorphosis is not only a great addition to the Ghost catalog, it’s the perfect description for their odyssey as a band…. by Sean Westergaard…allmusic….~

Tracklist 
Unreleased Ghost Tracks From The 1980s 
CD-1 Improvisation (Studio 1988) 4:34 
CD-2 Improvisation / Voices (Home 1989) 2:08 
CD-3 Hakkyou Dojin (Live 1989) 6:33 
CD-4 Improvisation (Live 1987) 4:02 
CD-5 Yonokuninominae (Live 1988) 1:52 
CD-6 Improvisations (Live 1988): On The Road, In The Metro
CD-7 Children Of The Earth (Live 1988) 32:27 
CD-8 Cow’s Green Cosmic (Outtake 1987) 0:53 
CD-9 Blood Red River (Outtake 1988) 4:04

Metamorphosis: Ghost Chronicles 1984-2004 150:00 
DVD-1 We Insist / Comin’ Home
DVD-2 Spirits And Energies
DVD-3 Zama
DVD-4 Marvelous Screamer
DVD-5 Hakkyou Dojin
DVD-6 Nagaki Kage Wa Hikumono
DVD-7 Choutou No Otoko
DVD-8 Tempera Tune
DVD-9 Freedom
DVD-10 Moungod Asleep
DVD-11 Moungod Radiant Youth
DVD-12 Masttillah
DVD-13 Rabi Rabi
DVD-14 Hekzermachuia
DVD-15 Mex Square Blue
DVD-16 Rakshu
DVD-17 Daggma
DVD-18 Who Found A Lost Rose…
DVD-19 Change The World / Drum Roll
DVD-20 Way To Shelkar
DVD-21 Marrakech
DVD-22 Vertigo
DVD-23 Lemon Iro No Cannabis
DVD-24 Guru In The Echo
DVD-25 Marrakech
DVD-26 Sun Is Tangging
DVD-27 Piper
DVD-28 Orange Sunshine
DVD-29 Forthcoming From The Inside
DVD-30 Snow Fakir / End Credits
Extras 
DVD-31 Performance
DVD-32 Buto Session 

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