Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reviews:: Ghost Bees Tasseomancy

I've already gone crazy with my praise for Halifax's Ghost Bees. Their unique brand of swirling folk is truly hauntingly beautiful. I don't mean that in the way most reviewers do (Read - I'm not just tossing out an accepted term to describe folk music with bends and creaks).

No, I actually mean that as beautiful as the Lightman's songs are, at points they actually creep me out. Their debut EP - Tasseomancy - opens with the terrific Vampires of the West Coast (which the girls actually premiered on herohill's Halifax mix tape) and even as nice as the duel vocals and finger picked riffs are, the hair on my neck stands on edge when they ask, "If I were beautiful subtle & touchable, would you linger to suckle and lie in my bathwater?" I'm not even sure why, but the self doubt and desire to be desired in that statement just makes me shudder.

And that's the thing about these girls. They could easily write folk ditties and draw you in with their spare arrangements and quirky vocals, but they constantly push the comfort limits of the listener. The songs are really representations of a different world; one seen only in dreams (or nightmares), but the images are so vivid that they get seared into your brain instantly.

Tasseomancy evolves into a polarizing musical battle of rapid fire staccato vocals and chopped strings and graceful long notes and the result has the heightened intensity needed to tell a great story. The constant battle between beauty and anxiety reminds me of the juxtaposition between the real world and dream like wonder expressed by Guillermo del Toro in Pan's Labyrinth.

Tear Tassel Ogre Heart is a beautiful folk song full of harmonies, strings, and banjina and Romy and Sari's vocals are light and whimsical. The thing is, they are singing about large open stomach wounds, Pol Pot and Mao and death. While that might seem odd and awkward, it's the little things they do that make this song work so well. When the sing "uncovered in a mausoleum" without the help of any instrumentation, the track instantly becomes weightless and completely contrasts the heavy darkness that they built over the first three minutes.

Every note they play, every musical addition (the accordion really fits perfectly into Goldfish and Metermaids) and every vocal warble syncs perfectly with the lyrics and the feel of the record. The result is breathtaking, challenging and somehow still easy to listen to. Most of all, Tasseomancy proves Ghost Bees is really worth the praise I keep dumping on them.

[MP3]:: Tasseomancy

Posted at 5:27 PM by ack :: 4 comments

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At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

I don't know about the rest of thier cd but the track here is overwrought and pretentious. not very acessable at all.


At 1:39 AM, Blogger Blanche did sayeth:

who can call this track pretentious? its about their great great great grandmother's struggle.

their music is completely captivating


At 7:47 AM, Blogger Gladys Peto did sayeth:

Thanks for this perfectly worded review. I came across Tasseomancy a few months ago, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most moving and exquisitely beautiful albums I have ever listened too. I get a lump in my throat even thinking about The Erl King. I still cry when I listen to it... 'Father, Father, I fear for my soul, as you should.' 'There's nothing here to harm you...' I am floored by this song every time. A truly extraordinary gem.


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