Ghost To Falco Exotic Believers

[Infinite Front/Cape and Chalice; 2010]

Styles: epic mood rock
Others: Neil Young

Ghost to Falco is largely the product of the imagination and talent of Portland’s Eric Crespo. However, on Exotic Believers, which was recorded in a warehouse over the course of many months, there are no fewer than 30 contributors, including members of Dragging an Ox through Water, Evolutionary Jass Band, Horse Feathers, Shaky Hands, Argumentix, Parenthetical Girls, Reporter, Au, and more. With so many artists on board, one might expect the album to force its mood on the listener.

The result, however, isn’t quite so overbearing. While Exotic Believers is occasionally uplifting, there is a darkness that dampens the jubilation if you’re listening for it. If you feel slightly perturbed or malaise at the hands of your daily routine, there is enough introspection and texture here to pick you up. But if you want something with a sock-hop vibe, then you’d probably do well looking elsewhere: the languishing permeates each track through the gritty orchestration and stark isolation of both the instruments and Crespo’s voice, to the point where tapping into its darker side only requires a slight shift in perspective.

This dialectic is made clear from the beginning. The album starts abruptly with “Black Holes,” jarring you into a state of agitated awareness for less than two minutes before lapsing into melancholy and a tolling bell. It’s the sort of challenging fare that doesn’t play easy on casual listens. And unless your mood reflects this giant fireball of an album 24/7, the complexity of arrangement between strings, electronics, guitar, and Crespo’s raspy, strained voice all combine into a package that will fit a niche but not resonate all day, all night.

Consequently, I have found myself preferring the method of picking and choosing songs for specific instances. For the moments when I need a soothing but angular backdrop to my daily activity, “Comfort Series #2,” with its solitary opening and its bombastic middle sections, is the best-fitting groove. The feeling of “Secrets of the Free” reflects an even more triumphant moment in life, and so the progression of the album shifts between anguish and some sort of angry joy. Later still, “Into the Missions/Quiet at Home” is like a folk dirge for warehouse dwellers, and so the motif of unsettled urban confidence goes on without relief or levity.

The cover of Exotic Believers does an amazing job of reflecting the immense reverence and power in Crespo’s approach to music-making. The mysterious flames from the cover are silent yet imposing, with a mysterious force that emanates from the vision. While the album isn’t silent, the procession of tracks possesses a similar feeling of desolation that one might feel being alone in the desert, with waves of heat, giant flames licking skyward.

Links: Ghost To Falco - Infinite Front/Cape and Chalice

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