Operatic, Folksy, Choral, Electric, contemplative Pop. Johnny Ragel, de facto leader of Boy Eats Drum Machine, fails to feel the constraints of any particular genus. BEDM's new album, Two Ghosts, is informed by social strata but in no way seeks eminence by cooptation. The album is not perfection. It is wholly original music that will escape definition.
As on the BEDM debut Pleasure, Ragel likes to employ his digital skills with jagged staccato bleeps and echoing drum kicks. The album opens with "3000 flares," a call to arms featuring sharp DJ cuts. The rumble of a base line that sparks "From an Oregon Shore" appears to take its cue from classic reggae (Peter Tosh and Bob Marley's "You Can't Do That to Me"). Portland-based folkie Laura Gibson lends her tender voice to this, as well as two other songs on Two Ghosts--her plush tone is a perfect complement to the growl of Ragel.
"Asleep" is slow, whimsical, and dreamy, with a slow rising voice hum of a voice streaming behind the fore. "Asleep" manages a silky transition to "(In) crossing wind" (also featuring Gibson), displaying Ragel's predilection for subtly changing mood and atmosphere (think Beatles "A Day in the Life"). "Alliance" is an anthem--akin to Neil Diamond's slow preach at a time when Diamond made songs that sounded like Leonard Cohen. "With the Village bells" is perhaps the alter ego of "From an Oregon Shore," with music eerily similar, if more dissonant. The spook factor is bolstered by the operatic wails and accordion of Miss Murgatroid a.k.a Alicia J. Rose.*
Lush and orchestral, strings and cymbals populate many of the open spaces on the album. Powerful yet concave, Boy Eats Drum Machine is able to massage the senses in all directions. After rising to the crescendo, and falling to level ground, I am tempted to start the ride all over again.
our review of their previous CD, Pleasure