Posts Tagged ‘The Silence’

The Silence

Masaki Batoh’s output of late has been nothing short of admirable. Between a run of solo albums and his work with The Silence, the man’s pumping out multiple albums per year without the slightest dip in quality. Following up the absolutely crushing Metaphysical Feedback from last year, the band pushes into heavy pscyh Nirvana with Electric Meditations. The record follows its predecessor’s reliance on sax and flute to fill out the shifting landscapes, letting heavy walls of riff and tender folk sidle down psychedelic jazz tributaries. The title track straddles the blend especially well, shifting easily on its feet from electric sweat growl to hushed moments of reflection. The album begins with a similar crash to the gates in “Tsumi to Warai,” which wields sax like a battering ram before letting a snaking bass section writhe against the groove into the opening of the album.

They blister next through a psych-funk simmer, dousing the listener with humid flutes and a tangle of rhythm then wind through the wooded paths that bear the brush marks of his time with Ghost. They get lost in the abstract only to pull themselves from the void of twinkling improvisations and conquer once more. Then, just for good measure, they knock the lid off of a cover of Bo Diddly’s “I’m A Man,” sounding like an outtake from Two Bands And A Legend. The Silence has always seemed like Batoh’s well-oiled endgame — a perfect amassing of players that can finally form the sounds that have haunted his head for ages.

It’s the songwriter at his most varied, but the eclecticism fits together like a puzzle box that’s a portal to a realm of fascinating forms. The panoramas on Electric Meditations are vast and wondrous, and it almost seems like he’s been overlooked in the last few years because people expect spot-on psychedelia from a figure as storied as Batoh. It’s worth shouting, however, that the legend is still plugged into the lysergic portal and passing the visions onto us in records that delight, disorient, and divine some sort of deeper cosmic thrum. Don’t miss out on what Batoh’s been conjuring.



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The Silence – “Electric Meditations”

Masaki Batoh isn’t wasting any time these days, cranking out excellent solo records and new material from The Silence at a dazzling clip. The latter is back on the heels of their heavy hitter from last year and from the sounds of the nearly eight minute title track, “Electric Meditations,” it’s going to be just as ferocious. The song crawls in on a stomping riff before the band lays in with fat bleats of sax and Batoh laying down a faraway lyric over the top. It burns straight through — growling, groaning, and letting the listener get a nice sear on ‘em between the grit on that guitar and the bulbous sax blasts that permeate the song. The Silence has proven to be some of the ex-Ghost songwriter’s most intense material over the years and from the sounds of this one, that reputation isn’t going anywhere soon. The new record is out November 6th from Drag City.



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Masaki Batoh – “In The Hour of Serpent”

Nice surprise today to have a new track from Masaki Batoh. With a solo release just last year, I’d not have expected more from the ex-Ghost frontman, but he’s sprung out of the fertile ground that brought forth Nowhere for a less solitary follow-up. Where that record was huddled around Batoh’s isolated reflections, Smile Jesus Loves YOU is more about reaching out in collaboration. Featuring members of Ghost (including percussionist Hiroyuki Usui) and The Silence, the record aims for communal transcendence and seems to be nailing it quite completely. Opener, “In The Hour of Serpent” is a lilting cut, buoyed by sweet flute curls and bittersweet plucks. The new LP is out May 8th fro Drag City. Dig deep on that cut below. If the rest of the record is half as good as this, its gonna be another stunner.



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RSTB Best of 2019

2019’s drawing to a close, so I suppose this is the place to tie it all up. I’ve mentioned in years past that ‘best’ is a hard line to draw around the music from the year. From a blog perspective ‘favorite’ seems more appropriate, but then for all intents and purposes my choices are qualitatively the best to me, if not necessarily quantitatively best in the sense of the zeitgeist. The drive to figure out what’s best seems to just consolidate consensus and we’re all treated to dozens of lists that cross over with each other, especially in the top spots. I’ve long been a proponent of niche. I say long live finding your voice and letting others find theirs – we can all compare notes and discover new music in the process. I don’t need anyone to sand the edges and offer up a list that’s all inclusive. I like the edges. These are my favorites from a great year, edges and all.

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The Silence

Just a few months after his solid solo LP, Masaki Batoh is back on a progressive bent with his band The Silence. Metaphysical Feedback is the first record since the band’s 2016 LP Nine Suns, One Morning, an album that expanded their already dense prog/psych palette from their two albums previous. A frantic pace seemed to be the norm for The Silence in the past, with their first three albums all falling less than a year from each other’s release. A longer time to germinate gives Metaphysical Feedback a bit of distance from its predecessors. The cindered folk stance of Nowhere seeps into the corners of the album, perhaps playing to a bit of crossbred songwriting between the two, but as usual The Silence remains Batoh’s avenue to bite into the wires of ‘70s prog, free-jazz, psychedelia, and the further reaches of space while smashing the boundaries between all of them.

The bulk of Metaphysical Feedback does just that, where opener “Sarabande” filters in slow and serene before igniting the pool of gasoline that’s been collecting over its 8+ minutes on the way out, “Tautology” is a bop-fried scorcher on the constant edge of freakout territory, lacerated by sax and ozone crackle. They employ groove that pushes further toward funk and further from their German Progressive touches on “Okoku” and it fits perfectly into their mindset. A dark current of flute pushes from jazz to psych odyssey on several tracks, and the band often uses them a herald for sweeping sea change within a track – the darkly decadent “Yokushurui” being the prime example.

Post-Ghost, Batoh has proven that he can’t be penned in by expectations, and while his solo record might have returned to a few markers in his past, The Silence proves that he’s still pushing further towards the edges for his future. The band has quickly amassed a catalog of remarkable releases, but it quickly becomes clear that the extra time to develop their latest makes Metaphysical Feedback their fist truly essential release.



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The Silence

Masaki Batoh’s post Ghost exhibits haven’t always hit on the same hallowed ground that the band prowled in its heyday. But with two releases in 2015 under The Silence moniker, he seems to be finding some footing that strikes closer to the heart. Its the second of these that’s really the sanctuary for those missing the mournful psychedelia that Ghost seemed to snatch out of the mists. Hark The Silence begins with a three part suite called Ancient Wind and the dirgey pace, wails of gong and wind sheared flute should all feel a bit familiar to those who’s ’90s collections held a few spots for Japanese psych among the grunge flooded fields. The suite is definitely the centerpiece and highlight of the album, a reminder of why Batoh has earned his place in a pantheon that’s rife with Eastern guitar slingers but there are some bright spots outside of the opening blows of Hark… as well. The band shines when they push past the ten minute mark, proving that the live incarnation is probably their true form, but at least finding a way to capture the storm to a fairly tangible form on tape. In part this feels like a true return and its nice to know that there will always be a home for squall wizards out there, but its also made me reach for the the familiar arms of Ghost’s catalog, proving that some legacies cast a long shadow that’s hard to shake.

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The Silence – “Ancient Wind Pt. 3”

Masaki Batoh’s The Silence sneaks in another album before the end of the year and its a fuller and more raucous outing than their self-titled debut earlier in 2015. The album is anchored by the massive three part piece “Ancient Wind” and they’ve just shared a video for the song that pretty much paints the visual they were going for on the psych-folk cycle. Swirling kaleidoscopic visuals that flash in epileptic warning to the song’s frantic mix of percussive thump and flute solos that will probably give your dad full on Tull flashbacks. Its a pretty decent way to spend six minutes.



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