The schizophrenic complexities of math rock were accurately presented last year in Brooklyn-based Celestial Shore’s debut album 10x, although it was the additional sum of surf rock, experimentation, psychedelic journeys that recalled timeless compositions such as The Beatles’ A Day in the Life, along with blissful yet indistinguishable harmonies that made it intriguing and oddly mind-blowing.
However, Celestial Shore’s subsequent album Enter Ghost is their apex. Although it excludes the pleasant dual vocals, it triumphs in bringing essential ingredients of accessibility and variety, while also advancing their shape-shifting tendencies into further exploratory transitions.
A shift is immediately evident on memorable opener Creation Myth, surprisingly containing a catchy chorus and a consistent rhythm that was absent on the preceding album. Energetic garage rock resembling The Hives pounces behind the singer’s breezy voice as he reminiscences about New York on the friendly Gloria. Perhaps these two tracks are intentionally commercial because they comprise a misleading first chapter that hardly prepares listeners for the forthcoming exciting disorientation.
Same Old Cult Story reintroduces several celebrated elements of 10x, including the surf rock instrumentation that mimics The Ventures, as well as violent dissonant chords commonly associated with math rock. Yet it’s their endeavours into neo-psychedelia and their exercising of Hendrix-style tricks and production that is the most impressive.
Fuzzboxes and feedback distortion make the dirty grunge on Shellshocked effectively uncomfortable and disconcerting. Among the disorder on Trouble, Celestial Shore utilises vibrato to add power to the blues guitar before concluding with rippling flanging, backmasking and high frequency ringing. The same effect is more forceful on the self-destructive I Hide and long delay loops make Pass Go cleverly bewildering.
Their ability to surprise continues on Too Cute, which dramatically vicissitudes from modern acoustic folk to a nostalgic analogue carousel melody. Furthermore, their musical kit extends to Vibraslap pedal loops, which set the tone for the pacy and feedback-filled Animal Ratio.
Lead singer Sam Owen’s voice remains gentle and restrained, juxtaposed with the chaos, but this time it’s more sonically unclouded. Like Celestial Shore’s tampering of musical apparatus, Owen also creatively reconstructs his voice through spoken word whispering and melodic voice-holding on Weekenders, while on Goodbye his vocals gradually multiply into overlapping cloned loops in a barbershop quartet fashion.
Enter Ghost is an expansive and challenging study into maximalist rock that displays a progressive and erudite attitude that hopefully won’t dissolve into commercial insipidity.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
Enter Ghost was released on 11th November 2014, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Creation Myth here: