Gost, Dance With the Dead, Sanford Parker, Pirate Twins | Double Door | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Gost, Dance With the Dead, Sanford Parker, Pirate Twins 17+ Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Dec. 30, 8 p.m. 2016

Michigan-based one-man band Gost borrows the relentless drive and glossy retrofuturism of synthwave and its frowny-faced cousin darksynth, but combines relatively common influences (French electro-house, John Carpenter) with a few from outside the box (doom metal, Kiss). Its most recent album, this fall’s Non Paradisi (Blood Music), gleams with icy arpeggiated keyboards, dated-sounding faux xylophone and vocal choruses, tensely queasy horn smears, and stab-you-in-the-shower synth shrieks. This aesthetic would evoke nothing more threatening than the mildly transgressive entertainments of an 80s adolescence—video games, slasher flicks—were it not for the satanic role-playing of Mr. Gost. He wears a death’s-head mask and calls himself Baalberith—the chief secretary of hell, said to have drafted the infernal contract allegedly signed by French priest Urbain Grandier, who was executed by burning in 1634. He pumps up Gost’s sound into a slavering, steroidal parody of synthwave, using brutalist beats anchored by bone-snapping kick-snare stomps and toothy, grinding bass that punches, stutters, and lunges. You can almost see veins bulging from computer-rendered limbs, or beastly clusters of teeth sprouting from supernumerary jaws. The harmonic material rarely evolves into anything you’d feel safe calling a “melody,” excepting the occasional contributions by guest vocalists—on Non Paradisi they include Baalberith’s wife, aka Bitchcraft, and Hayley Stewart of Dead Astronauts. This stuff is all about what machine rhythms can do to your body. Its careful layering of rapid, nimble pulses atop a punishing thump works a lot like a massage, and it can be soothing once you learn how to lean into it—the sinister, minor-key darkness is just for atmosphere. Unless you believe in devils, of course. To quote Baalberith’s favorite lines from Paradise Lost: “The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.”

Philip Montoro

Price: $20, $18 in advance

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