Masaki Batoh of Ghost debuts new group the Silence | Bleader

Masaki Batoh of Ghost debuts new group the Silence

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The Silence
  • Minoru Tsuyuki
  • The Silence

In August 2014, Ghost front man Masaki Batoh declared the band defunct after a 30-year run. He also announced his next group, the Silence, which debuted live in Tokyo in late November—and which releases its first album, also called The Silence, next week on Drag City.

Batoh is a modern Japanese troubadour and something of a mystic: As my esteemed colleague Bill Meyer wrote in 2009, Ghost drifted among distinct but complementary aesthetics, including "blazing rock, baroque folk, and free-form freak-outs." And in 2012, with the album Brain Pulse Music, he experimented with integrating a literal neural interface into his songs.

Batoh's description of his new band is in character, if not particularly enlightening: "The Silence is heavier than any sound pressure," he says, "and the silence which thunders the ears can only be expressed by the silence in the subconscious mind of consciousness and unconsciousness."

The five-piece lineup includes two other former members of Ghost, Kazuo Ogino (keyboards, Bulgarian tambura, lute, pipes) and Futoshi Okano (drums), plus Ryuichi Yoshida (baritone saxophone, flute) and Jan Stigter (bass, backing vocals). Conspicuously absent is god-tier electric guitarist Michio Kurihara, a member of Ghost and White Heaven who's visited the States most often in recent years guesting with heavy Japanese trio Boris.

On today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Lemon Iro No Cannabis," the ceremonial aspects of Ghost aren't in evidence; unsurprisingly, neither are the outer-space streakings contributed by Kurihara. The song is a grandly ornate and pastorally serene fusion of classic rock and psychedelia, with a melodic organ-painted intro (it might remind you of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale") and a pretty great flute solo.

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