1999, Music

Snuffbox Immanence (1999) by Ghost

I got made fun of so much for liking prog rock when I was in my late teens and early 20s, in part because, for the people I knew, prog rock was horribly old and uncool and, moreover, my friends didn’t actually know what they were talking about usually, mistaking “prog rock” for Styx and Kansas and Super Tramp. Meanwhile, music blogs like Pitchfork were absolutely losing their minds over records like this. I guess my friends didn’t read Pitchfork, or maybe nobody made the connection.

This record is classified as “baroque pop” by Wikipedia and “psychedelic folk” by Rate Your Music and I don’t dispute that some of this record fits into those genres, but I hear a distinct prog influence on this record, specifically some space rock influence on the jammier tracks, and some progress folk (i.e. Strawbs, the folkiest music of early King Crimson, etc) on the folkier stuff. The latter tracks appear to be influenced by the wussiest end of the prog spectrum, something I don’t particularly enjoy. Mixed in with this stuff is a bit of music that sounds like it could be classified as post rock, only because its non-rock music being played by a rock band. In short, the record is all over the place.

The stuff that sounds like post rock sounds like post rock via ’80s King Crimson, and the rest of the record is heavily, heavily indebted to the early 1970s. Every time I come across a celebrated record so clearly indebted to another time and place, I always wonder why there’s so much hype. Is it because the reviewer doesn’t know the references? Or is it because the reviewer knows the references, and enjoys how indebted the record is? This is harder with North American bands but here, at least there are some Japanese lyrics. (Also, for those of you who find it endearing, there are English lyrics sung in a thick Japanese accent. Personally, I find that stuff really annoying but I know that some people love that stuff. Reminds me of Krautrock, actually…)

It’s all very competent, it’s relatively diverse, and I guess nobody else at the time sounded exactly like them. But it recalls to many other things for me, most of which I don’t love to the extent that the band members clearly do. And it’s utterly mystifying to me that, while I was getting made fun of for liking music vaguely like this – albeit often rockier – an arbiter of cool somewhere else was writing rave reviews about not even the genuine article. It’s a strange, strange world.


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