Chris Forsyth/Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band Intensity Ghost [EP] [Digipak] CD

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Chris Forsyth/Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band Intensity Ghost [EP] [Digipak] CD. Personnel: Chris Forsyth, Paul Sukeena (guitar); Shawn Edward Hansen (organ, synthesizer); Peter Kerlin (bass guitar); Steven Urgo (drums).
Recording information: Uniform Recording, Philadelphia (11/2013-01/2014).
Guitarist Chris Forsyth assembled a studio to record the four-part Solar Motel suite, issued on Paradise of Bachelors in 2013. That offering is a sprawling meditation on the evolution of the rock & roll electric guitar from the psychedelia of the Grateful Dead and the spiraling blues-rock of the Allman Brothers to the rhythmic, interlocking, melodic grooves of Television and the multi-tonal experiments of Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth. After its release and a tour, the individuals felt so good about it they decided to form a band. Bassist Peter Kerlin and keyboardist Shawn Edward Hansen return, with new drummer Steven Urgo and additional guitarist Paul Sukeena. Intensity Ghost is not part two of Solar Motel. Instead, it's comprised of five focused, more economical songs that collectively cover plenty of ground. Who would have thought there was room left to explore the basic blues boogie form in the 21st century? Check the pyrotechnic call-and-response slide guitars, swirling keyboards, and fat bassline in "Yellow Square" for an answer. "The Ballad of Freer Hollow" employs the ringing twin tonalities of Television's live two-guitar attack as a way of extracting melodic minutiae from crescendo-driven rock; the end result is nearly cinematic in scope. The swelling organs, drop snares, and droning bassline offer not only rhythmic support but color, dimension, and breadth. "I Ain't Waiting," the briefest cut here, commences from a skeletal root of reverb-laden modal query into a fully lyric midtempo ballad with wide-open emotional expression. Its intricate bassline engages the repetitive vamp of cascading six-strings in a wonderful dialogue. "Intensity Ghost" begins as a driving, clattering, vamping, hard rock strut. It unfolds with lusher yet knottier breaks, and every one of his influences -- among them Richard Thompson and Steve Hunter -- can be heard before erupting into a Mick Ronson-esque glam jam. Closer "Paris Song" is constructed out of ringing harmonics, organ drones, whole-tone single notes, and washed-out open chords. They open onto a silvery, liquid, textural meditation on Jimi Hendrix's "1983...A Merman I Should Turn to Be" and the open-ended questions in the heart of the Dead's "Dark Star." The rumbling tom-toms provide the only drama until the closing minute, when blissed-out guitar and organ chords commingle. Intensity Ghost is more a companion to Solar Motel than a continuation. It gels because it's the sound of a band playing to its collective strength. The music focuses so intently on its inspirations, it creates something new and powerful from them. ~ Thom Jurek


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