During a quiet moment on Ghost's new album, Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City), you can clearly hear the sound of pages turning. It's easy to imagine them as leaves of vellum bound into a massive, dusty, leather-covered tome full of arcane secrets; this Tokyo-based collective, founded by singer and guitarist Masaki Batoh in the mid-80s, makes its home in 60s acid folk and psychedelia, and its sound is always steeped in mysticism. In the band's more stilted and self-indulgent moments, you can picture the elves and unicorns all too clearly, but an ever changing roster and varied, inventive arrangements have by and large kept its formula fresh. Hypnotic Underworld, Ghost's first record in five years, balances meditative madrigals with set-the-controls-for-the-heart-of-the-sun freak-outs; percussionist Junzo Tateiwa is the most impressive addition this time out, adding propulsive force to the flute-heavy jam "Ganagmanag" and bringing the four-part opening epic to a close with a majestic tidal wave of drum rolls. The band doesn't make it to Chicago often, and this is one of the best lineups Batoh's assembled yet--catch it now, because odds are the group will have morphed into something else by the time it comes back. This show is part of the Adventures in Modern Music festival; Double Leopards, Noxagt, and Xiu Xiu open. Sunday 26, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Keiko Yushida.