Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Former Ghosts / Whitman split on Folktale Records
There ought to be a special place on your seven inch shelves for split singles of bands covering each other. They are the rarest of splits and require a crazy investment from both bands to come up with a version of the song that will do justice to the original while putting their own spin on it. It's not something you're likely to have in your set list normally and could even risk a friendship if taken too far. It helps if you run the Folktale label like Chris from Whitman on the B-side of this split covering Former Ghosts. I'm just getting into Former Ghosts thanks to their cover of Whitman on the A-Side, but sadly nothing is available on vinyl here in the US it seems except this single which is good news for you, reader.
Former Ghosts cover Whitman's track "Shake" bringing their heavy electronic slant to this avant garde party. The depth and glitches used is astonishing, they aren't sounds from the same family or even neighborhood. Annie Lewandowski from Powerdove on vocals brings a clean, melancholy sound to the proceedings working as perfectly as Chris on the original vocal, her measured echo delivery working opposite the bleeps and bloops vying for attention, like a one night stand of Aphex Twin and Zola Jesus. It comes crashing apart in this end section redirecting the melody and dropping the vocal sounding sinister in the opposite way this doesn't feel like a bedroom or any instrument you've ever heard. The coldness adds something new to the track and the artists here couldn't be more opposite and therefore lead to the best covers of each others material.
Whitman covers a Former Ghosts track "New Orleans" pushing it into a pop pace with organic weird sounds and a low thud rhythm instead of heavy electronics and sticks to the familiar sounds of the bedroom. Chris keeps the same vulnerability of Former Ghosts's version but feels like he's delivering the lyric in the barest of intimate spaces, the kind with a lightbulb on a cord over the toy xylophone....nothing better to really hit the nostalgia home. Gets me every time. I'm hearing the lyric completely differently also, the way he's phrasing this, as much as previously they've built up this heavy rhythm he's ignoring it. He then changes the chorus to emphasize the original heartbreak with cello layered in with room noise and life happening throughout. Don't ask me why that's inherently sad, but this vocal about leaving the city and taking me with you certainly is. You want to think this would work out alright, but that kind of desperation never works in real life. It's taken the original, and stripped away the digital framework and elevated it with homemade sounds, taking it to an even more raw, emotional place. Desperately making a mountain out of mashed potatoes on the livingroom table, trying to communicate and making a huge beautiful mess in the process.
Pick this up from Folktale Records. Chris also did that great sleeve art and left the rest of us feeling lazy and boring.