Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh – Overloaded Ark

January 01, 1970

(Drag City)




A year ago, the self-titled collaboration between Espers’
Helena Espvall and Ghost’s Masaki Batoh looked a lot like mom, bucolically
serene, folk-centric and gentle. Now little brother Overloaded Ark comes along and rights the balance, bearing a stronger resemblance to Ghost’s
impish rhythmic gambols and tending more towards unstructured, unvocaled free
improvisations than songs.


Indeed,  the disc
starts with Ghost-ly DNA on view, in the high kicking, bagpiped “Little Blue
Dragon”, a dead ringer for the Cro-Magnon cover “Caledonia”
on In Stormy Nights. The next two
cuts are extended, freeform meditations, the title cut pounding with caravan
drums and squiggling with electronics, the pastoral “Until Tomorrow” layering
gauzy, sun drenched atmospheres of guitar, electric keyboard into a slow
daydream. It is, in fact, not until “Suenos Con Serpientes” at track four that
you hear anything resembling the ethereal familiar-yet-strange folk songs of
the first album, or even a sustained vocal (Espvall this time, and typically
lovely). A brief classically-influenced cello interlude – interpreting Hans Leo Hassler and Orlando di
Peccatis Suae Gentis” / “Nun Fanget An” – marks the midway point, much as
“Bicinium” did on the last effort.  


The album’s second half hews more closely to the shadowy,
not-quite-traditional folk style set out in the self-titled debut, a whispered,
harp-delicate lullaby (“Tourdion”) melting into the cello drones and shifting
wind-instrument fogs of “Over the Luminesce Land.”  Altogether livelier, more restless and
inquiring than the first outing, but a little less ravishing.


“Until Tomorrow”, “Over the Luminesce Land” “Suenos Con


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