Sheet Ghost: Silent Ritual
Music does not recognize borders; it doesn't care where you come from or where you call home -- and though there is a lot of attention being paid lately to the Cincinnati local scene, there is plenty great music being made on 'the other side' of the Ohio river.
Sheet Ghost is a heavy post-punk quartet from Independence, KY who just recently rebranded themselves after deciding that their former name, Come Here Watson, no longer reflected their music or their style. This change in identity came as the band was assembling their new EP, Silent Ritual.
The members of Sheet Ghost: Ethan Rankin [guitar, vocals], Jake Motz [guitar, vocals], Tyler Bennett [drums] and Kurtis Tabeling [bass] have been making music together in one form or another since 2010 and have established friendships with other experimental artists like Jake Tippey from The Frankl Project. It was no surprise then that when it came time to record Silent Ritual, Tippey was asked to oversee the mixing and mastering of the album.
First impressions first - with song titles like "Heart Full of Novocaine" and "Things That Splinter (When They Break)," you can pretty much immediately grasp the sense that Sheet Ghost prefer to embrace the entropic and damaged aspects of the human condition. This is matched by the general tuneful sullenness that permeates the five songs on Silent Ritual.
If one were forced to classify the music of Sheet Ghost, the term 'shoegaze' might come to mind; but, personally, I find the term pejorative and suggestive of the band being overly self-indulgent.
Name-calling aside, Sheet Ghost creates a rich and full sound that is expansive, powerful and packs a mean punch. As a bonus, if you listen closely to Silent Ritual (or through headphones like I often do), you will be treated to a few little extra nuances of 'room sound' that give the album a remarkably intimate feeling.
Through 99.9% of the album I feel that the performance, recording and production are spot-on. My one critique is that the percussion on "Indian Summer" (particularly the hi-hat cymbals) is a bit too prominent in the mix and distracts from the overall complexion of the song - I would have preferred that Tabeling's bass be the focal point of the track.
Contrary to that, the guitar tone and drum sound on "Shameless" is enviable and make for a perfect counterpart to Rankin's howling vocals.
The more I listen to Silent Ritual, particularly the song entitled "Memorial," the more I am convinced that the band has spent a lot of time listening to old Afghan Whigs' albums. The dynamics, by instruments and voices alike, are downright wicked and are indicative of a band that play very well together - making this my choice for 'best-of' this week.
Silent Ritual is currently available for download from Bandcamp. Look for upcoming shows by Sheet Ghost as they will be supporting their new album on both sides of the river.