MACHINE Spooky Ghost
A brilliant sonicist, and a guitarchitect of rare dimension. Psychedelic in the highest sense of the word. Gerry Leonard is another Celtic wonder of New York. He is a revered and sought-after studio tone painter, and has recorded with a long list of artists that includes David Bowie, Rufus Wainwright (who sang his praises in this month's interview), Holly Cole, Avril Lavigne, Duncan Sheik, Jonatha Brooke, Susan McKeown, Paula Cole, and Laurie Anderson. (We first became aware of him on the stellar recordings of Susan McKeown, a Puremusic favorite.)
Live and in the studio, one of the calling cards of this brilliant musician is what's called "looping." It's basically the layering of one sound over another, usually with the use of various effects like digital delay and repeat, and many other tone shaping devices. The possibilities are almost endless, and in the hands of the experts like Spooky Ghost, David Torn, and various unsung others, the results can be truly awesome. But that's just one aspect of his approach, his genius is the many and wonderful sounds he can get with a handful of old pedals and a little amplifier coupled with his musicality. The praise of Rufus Wainwright spoke equally to his sonic and harmonic prowess.
We're very big fans of the solo debut, Spooky Ghost. But on the new Spooky Ghost release, The Light Machine, the listener gets more of the artistic essence of the person Gerry Leonard (who now is only in the fine print), there's more singing, and longer, more revealing songs. Along with all kinds of treated guitar, there is a wealth of great straight ahead guitar playing, and the kind of passionate intuition we're accustomed to from drummer Jay Bellerose, who also plays some convincing tabla and inspired percussion. Like Bellrose, bassist Paul Bryan also appears on both discs. On The Light Machine, however, he rises to Producer status and along with bass plays a variety of vintage keyboards.
Nothing sounded good to me yesterday. But after listening for a couple of hours to these first two Spooky Ghost records, music sounds good again. The Light Machine opened my ears and my mind back up. It's sonically brave and original, and challenging. We're proud to help bring the work of Spooky Ghost to wider attention. Hear for yourself what a lot of big recording artists have known for years. Check out the clips on the Listen page, and buy The Light Machine here.
To those interested in finding out more about "looping" and other sonic effects, we will review a two tape series by the master David Torn on Homespun Tapes next issue. FG