Masaki Batoh leads the great Japanese band Ghost, an
ensemble whose masterful blend of Western acid rock/folk with its native traditional
music redefines the term “psychedelic.” Insatiable fans waiting for another
taste of that distinctive brew (it’s going on five years since the last LP)
will have to be patient a while longer, however, as Brain Pulse Music is not in the same vein.
The LP eschews the Western half of the band’s usual equation
– indeed, it arguably puts aside anything resembling a structured tune. At
least not as rock-oriented ears might hear it – folks more familiar with both
electronic ambience and Japanese traditional music might beg to differ. “Kumano
Codex 3” and “Kumano Codex 4” (the former stretching to almost 10 minutes) are
little more than slow, steady beats and melancholy flute solos, while “Eye
Tracking Test” and “Kumano Codex 1” are a pair of pulsing sine waves that sound
indistinguishable from each other. “Aiki No Okami” splits the difference by
putting a monotonic chant over buzzing electronic noises for a teeth-grating
track that doubtless makes sense in some universe or another.
This is a record of experimental sound, no more or less, and
is arguably as important an element in Batoh’s musical makeup as anything
involving guitar chords. But that doesn’t make Brain Pulse Music particularly compelling, especially not to anyone
craving a helping of Ghost music.
Codex 4” MICHAEL TOLAND