Ghost In Stormy Nights

Japan’s 18-year veterans of the finest psychedelic, folk drone and sonic experimentation, Ghost finally return two years after the incredible Hypnotic Underworld to provide some solace in this bizarre moment in history. The solace comes via lulling arrangements and Masaki Batoh’s almost vulnerable singing on delicate album opener "Motherly Bluster.” But it doesn’t take long before they kick us awake with the 28-minute long track "Hemicyclic Anthelion.” Recorded both live and in studio, In Stormy Nights is a perfect display of the many sides of Ghost, book-ended by structured songs and experimental soundscapes. One of the highlights is their cover of "Caledonia,” a song by the ’60s psych band Cromagnon. For tumultuous times (Ghost have never been shy of making clear their disdain for the irresponsibility of most of the world’s governments), this record is a guidebook to tuck under the arm and set sail into the mire. But it also warns that if opened, horrendous truths will be unveiled and they will demand our attention. Album closer "Grisaille” veers more into the folk realm but is full of the little details and layers of howling sound that Ghost are so wonderful at, and reaches perfection two-thirds of the way through when the band are joined by the searing, poignant guitar of Michio Kurihara, one of the instrument’s most compelling players. In Stormy Nights provides a much needed ominous start to 2007, with room for moments of surprise and beauty. (Drag City)