Awesome, totally genius: Ghost Tropic by Songs: Ohia

Five years ago I would probably not have appreciated Ghost Tropic, the even by Jason Molina-standards remarkably gloomy follow-up to the more easily accessible The Lioness. Back then I was a drummer just beginning to dabble with the guitar in a not-all-that-serious fashion. I had never written a song, let alone been through the often gruesome process of trying to adapt one to the four-man band scale without compromising the intended feeling of it.

Having been writing music as well as playing in a band of above specified shape for a few years now, the process of skillfully arranging a musical piece for more than one instrument is something that fascinates me now more than ever. And Ghost Tropic is an album that showcases a nearly perfect performance in this very area. Backing up some sparse guitar and Molina’s signature cryptic poetry with an impressive arsenal of percussions and the occasional burst of piano, bass guitar and birdsong, the slow-moving songs turn into atmospheric landscapes of their own in which changes in mood and intensity is seamlessly fleeting instead of forced upon the listener with the banging of a rock drummer’s crash cymbal.

This attribute, combined with the considerable length of the songs (“Not Just a Ghost’s Heart” and album closer “Incantation” lands at about twelve minutes each), leads many people to dismiss this record as an eventless sleeping pill on first listen, and fail to give it a sophomore chance to shine. Don’t. It will grow on you sooner or later, and be warned that it will most likely be the latter. But once it does…

Songs: Ohia – “The Body Burned Away”

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