Suzuki Junzo - Ode to a Blue Ghost [Utech Records - 2012]Suzuki Junzo's "Ode to a Blue Ghost" is an album of effects-laden guitar texture that originally came out in 2009 in a 3 track edition. The new Utech re-issue also contains a 4th piece.
The cavernous sound is similar to the sparser moments of Acid Mothers Temple, but without the feel good vibes and bluesy melodies of traditional psychedelic jam rock. Junzo's sound is somber and serious, cold in tone, and not rhythmically driven. This is a solo set and there are no drums here, and only a couple conventionally played riffs. Instead he favors drones, atonal swells of feedback and piercing washes of harsh noise.
The opener and title track "Ode to a Blue Ghost" is the longest and most difficult piece here at 22 minutes. The post rock-ish melody that begins the album is a sad yet pleasing sound, some kind of ode to anticipation and solitude. He patiently plays the riff for many minutes, and at a glacial pace, it is overtaken by tense, dissonant feedback noise which climbs to frightening volume and becomes a harrowing din which lacerates the ear, evoking images of a forlorn and hellish land, in the pinnacle of the record's coldness. Invariably, I have to turn the volume down.
The following "Beyond the Yellow Cloud" is welcome in its ambient liquidity, and the record becomes more listenable from here on out. This one starts with a jangling, detuned guitar chord, which is then allowed to resonate into a soft, simmering feedback tone. Junzo uses a whammy bar to add a smokey quavering to the tone, which swells and burns through many melancholy shapes. Occasionally, he strums another chord to solidify and strengthen the feedback tones. There's a lot of delay and reverb, and the sea of sound that amasses in the background of the piece drifts serenely but insistently, with a momentum of its own.
The ambience breaks naturally into "Shivering Larry's Last Freak Out", which is much closer to a retro psychedelic "guitar solo in space", and easily the most enjoyable track on the album. With a deep, overdriven tone, Junzo plays chugging blues chord progressions with a vast delays. This is the only place on the album where he breaks from morbid brooding and creates something blissful and soaring.
The new track is the 13 minute "Studies for Three Broken Canes of Dr. Dream", a murky dark ambient feedback mass which begins not dissimilar to TenHornedBeast. A drone thickens within the sludge as the track progresses, sounding massive by the 9 minute mark, then falling into a vague, wistful shroud of reverberation. It's the equal of every other track here, and a hauntingly desolate conclusion.
In conclusion, Suzuki Junzo's "Ode to a Blue Ghost" can be uninviting, yet also powerfully transporting and cathartic if the listener puts forth the effort. The bleak and abrasive soundscapes found here sketch a lonely and morbid narrative, but each piece is in its perfect place. Highly recommended to fans of drone, noise and dark ambient music who are not easily frightened or depressedJosh Landry