Volume 92, Issue 34
Wednesday, November 4, 1998
millions of bad feelings
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Phish flys, Candyskins satisfy, while Space sinks
The Story of the Ghost
Over the past 15 years, Phish have become a legend for their phenomenal live performances, but they have also been plagued with the inability of replicating the energy and spontaneity of their concerts within the confines of a studio. The Story of the Ghost may be the studio album which comes closest to capturing Phish in their purest form.
The album is also the culmination of Phish's new approach to music they concentrate more on drawing from funk inspiration. At the heart of The Story of the Ghost are the pounding deep bass grooves provided by Mike Gordon. These grooves are complemented by Trey Anastasio's effects-laden guitars, the numerous keyboards of Page McConnell and the bizarre beats of John Fishman, to create one of the most interesting recordings of the year.
From the start of the opening track "Ghost," Phish manages to deliver a unique world of tranquility. Even on up-tempo tracks like "Birds of a Feather" and "The Moma Dance," the air of tranquility remains, creating a haunting theme throughout the album.
One thing old fans may find disappointing about The Story of the Ghost is only one song out of the 14 tracks surpasses the five-minute mark the old live show standard "Guyute." However, in the shorter tracks the band has captured the essence which made many of these songs great when played in the past. The first take was used for most of the tracks, with little or no overdubs added to preserve their spontaneity.
The Story of the Ghost is an album which will disappoint few people. Past fans will be able to appreciate the current direction of Vermont's finest, while newcomers will be able to settle into the short, but sweet grooves, without getting lost in the madness of the band's extended noodling. For once, the outside world may be able to understand what has made Phish the underground phenomena it has become.
Death Of A Minor TV Celebrity
The fourth release from the Candyskins marks a new beginning of sorts for the English quartet.
After enjoying mild international success with full-length releases in 1991 and 1993, the Candyskins suffered a series of setbacks which culminated with their removal from Geffen Records. Now, after spending the last few years toiling in relative obscurity and teetering on the brink of oblivion, the Candyskins have resurfaced with a superb collection of hummable pop songs.
It only takes a minute into the brisk and rousing opener, "Feel It," to realize the Candyskins are firing on all cylinders. From the timeless and wistful ballad "Loser Friendly" to the hazy and languid "Songbird," this is clearly the work of a band at the apex of their musical talent.
Perhaps the one downfall of this record is its palpable lack of character. On the surface, the Candyskins don't sound all that different from the rest of the guitar-driven pop bands out there. Fortunately, what they lack in audio distinctiveness, they make up for with quality songwriting.
Death Of A Minor TV Celebrity is a luminous pop album which brims with shimmering harmonies, subtle hooks and infectious choruses. Make no mistake about it, the Candyskins are back. With any luck, this time they'll stay a while.
The Space Between Us
With a record label named Melankolic, it's no wonder Craig Armstrong's album, The Space Between Us, is laden with gloom.
Although it begins with a promising sound, it quickly plummets into a sea of unending dreariness. Every note is painfully drawn out, giving the impression the album will never end. Songs like "This Love," with its eerie, high-pitched vocals, could have easily ended after about three minutes. But on this album, the track went on for almost seven dreadful minutes.
Other tracks on the album are equally terrible. "After the Storm" sounds more like the beginning of television's Law and Order. "Let's Go Out Tonight" is a blatantly transparent attempt to sound like Peter Gabriel.
Another downfall is the album's absence of climax. The album goes nowhere and takes a long time to get there. The tracks don't connect, but seem like a meaningless collection of sounds.
In light of all this, Armstrong does have one redeeming quality he communicates through music. "My Father" conveys a touching sadness, while "Rise" produces an eclectic arrangement of industrial sounds and classical orchestration. If the rest of the album was this raw and original it wouldn't be a total waste of time. Instead, these tracks remain the only highlights.
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