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Damon & Naomi with Ghost

Wednesday, Nov 1 2000
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Although this is the season of haunted houses and macabre creatures, the scariest thing about Damon & Naomi -- the former rhythm section from indie rock legends Galaxie 500 -- is their musical kinship to tragic singers like Nick Drake and Sandy Denny. Since 1992, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have applied a transcendent glissando folk-drone to compositions that evoke the dark spirit of AM radio casualties like Mama Cass Elliot and Karen Carpenter.

In the same vein, Ghost is a Japanese trio that haunts listeners with layers of ringing guitars, glimmering organ, and countless other captivating tones. Led for over 15 years by vocalist/guitarist Masaki Batoh, Ghost crafts a spectral acid-folk-prog concoction similar to Popul Vuh, Amon Düül, and Syd Barrett.

After several years of friendship and shared tours, Damon, Naomi, and Ghost collaborated on the complexly curved and gloriously expressive record Damon & Naomi with Ghost. The album's opener, "The Mirror Phase" combines a casual sway of acoustic guitars and a breathy harmonium hum with the American duo's softly soaring vocals. "The New World" features fugue-style figures on harpsichord and classical guitar, as well as Yang's soprano vocals and a looped sample of chanting monks. The cover version of the charming Big Star ballad "Blue Moon" further underscores each artist's unique talents: Damon and Naomi draw out the resolutely self-destructive desire, while Ghost transforms the pliant tune into a smudged lullaby.

In a rare performance featuring all the members of Ghost (previous shows on the tour featured only Batoh on guitar), the collaborative team of artists meets to articulate the themes and sounds captured on the nine-song album. There may be little reason to fear Ghost and/or Damon and Naomi, but tickets might sell out frighteningly early.

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Dave Clifford

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