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GHOST

A couple months ago I read an interview with a Japanese pundit who deemed himself a misfit and a nonconformist, in part because he wore a pink argyle sweater to work rather than a business suit. I wonder what the average citizen over there makes of Ghost, a longhaired Japanese combo whose multihued robes and elephant bells recall Bob Marley and the Wailers circa 1976. The sextet's music (now available in the U.S. on Chicago's Drag City label) is similarly estranged from pop convention; instead of emulating the fluff that clogs Eastern airwaves they look back in both space and time for inspiration, finding it in the fey eclecticism of Britain's Incredible String Band, the spacey mysticism of Germany's Popol Vuh, and the mellow earnestness and meandering guitar excursions of America's own Quicksilver Messenger Service. If the group has any concept of a target audience, it isn't local; Japanese pop stars usually sing in their mother tongue, but vocalist Masaki Batoh prefers English. Ghost's four albums are appealing and varied affairs that include fragile acoustic ballads, fuzz-toned electric rockers, and ceremonial pieces performed on the hurdy-gurdy, sitar, and hand drums, but their studio recordings don't match the dynamic range and giddy wildness of their performance here two years ago. The presence on this tour of guest guitarist Kuri Hara, who also plays in the psychedelic combo White Heaven, offers hope that on this visit they might go even crazier. Liam Hayes of Plush opens. Monday, 9:00 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600. BILL MEYEr

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ghost photo/ uncredited.

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