One of the best things about the advent of technology is the sheer volume of music available nowadays. One of the worst things about the advent of the technology is the sheer volume of music available nowadays. And, no, I didn’t just have a stroke. It’s the classic dichotomy, the best and worst of times all rolled into one. As a music nerd, I love having access to new bands from far-off places, but as anyone who has spent even a modicum of time on SoundCloud can tell you, so very much of those bands are crap and not from far-off enough.
Even those musicians that I do like are often plagued by the poor production qualities that comes from not having a million dollar record deal to cut an album with. As endearing as bootleg collections are, there comes a time in every fan’s obsession that they should be thinking, “Why do you still record your albums in a public toilet?”
Thankfully, Ghost of Matsubara has left behind the living room demo format for a richer and more complex sound with their latest album. Even a cursory listen to the seven tracks exemplifies a dynamic direction for the band. Tom’s guitar solos are brilliant, without the heavy reliance on pedals from their previous efforts. Mike’s percussion is so clear it brings whole new levels to songs I’ve heard countless times. And Tak’s bass lines are so present it’s clear that he has definitely made his place in the band (Keiko who?) And, holy shit, are they singing harmony?
So, it’s evident that GoM has stepped up their production quality. But without the memorable songs to go with it, they might as well be recording the new Rebecca Black CD. However, if Tom Fallon does anything well, it’s pen memorable songs. Fans will quickly recognize new takes on old classics Shelter and Dead Skin, even with their glossy new sheen.
They will also find a lot to love with fresh tracks like the opening It will all be over soon, which effortlessly jumps between stanzas of despair and crowd-jumping chorus lines, a Tom Fallon staple. While tracks like Black Sheep and Eclipsed are quick to show off the heavier rock elements that they usually reserve for live shows, others, such as #1 Zero seem a bit out of place live or recorded.
Still, the standout for me has to be From The Outer Rim, which shows a profundity that I did not see coming. Yet on a second listen, I was able to catch how it ties together the albums underlying feelings of isolation and despair together in a very subtle theme that is reminiscent of Bowie’s Space Oddity. This will be the B-side that true fans will be screaming at them to play for years to come.
As given to hyperbole as I am, I do not hesitate to call this the best album from a local band that I have ever heard. It gets my highest recommendation.