Cool Ghouls have long been a staple at RSTB, their sunny psych-pop lighting up the speakers year over year. This latest album sees the band dive deeper into their influences — moving from late Nazz / early Rundgren solo years to post-Brian R&B Beach Boys and even the luxurious confines of The Moody Blues’ orchestral pop. As this new album has also taken over the stereo, its struck me that none of the Ghouls had chipped in a Gems pick and I sought to correct that. Multi-instrumentalist Pat McDonald lets a New Age treasure surface from his collection Check out how it cam into his life and the impact it’s had on him and while you’re at it pick up a copy of the band’s new LP from Empty Cellar.
“My hidden gem pick is going to be Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose by Jordan De La Sierra,” reveals McDonald, “a pioneering “New Age” album recorded at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. It flopped tremendously when it was initially released in ’77. De La Sierra described is as “coming from the school of Minimalism” and “pure sound, with shape.” I found it on a blog that highlights obscure music right when I was on the cusp of the end of a years-long relationship and right at the start of Covid lockdown here in Northern California. It hasn’t weaseled its way into our music yet, as I discovered it long after At George’s Zoo was sent to the pressing plant, but, it’s stirred something in me that will surely surface in whatever I write in the future.”
“It’s a hidden gem because I’ve never heard anything like it before in my life. It’s sounds like what overcast looks like and that just blows my mind. The record found me at a really difficult time and showed me an empathy and tenderness you don’t often find in minimalist stuff. There’s parts in the album where it just dissipates before your eyes and leaves you laying a puddle of lamenting, almost-weeping piano. To put it plainly- there is despair in this album, captured, and it will touch your despair. I found a lot of compassion and comfort in that. That’s the beauty of Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose. Each track is a contemplative, meditative, soothing, completely agonizing 30-minute epic. The densely layered and woven piano settles on you with a weight and fullness in the same way sleep does, and sinks you into the deeper parts of your emotions. It feels less like an album you “listen” to and more like a room you walk into. It’s truly a minimalism masterpiece and forever an overlooked favorite of mine!”
Lucky for us all the album has, in fact, been reissued by Numero Group. The label has put it back on LP and digital for all those looking for a soul massage. Naturally the expanded issue contains a wealth of information behind the record, including a 20 page book on the release. Though, you do lose that amazing original cover (pictured above) so for the seeker, there are still originals available that won’t completely break the bank.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.