spectre folk

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  • spectre folk – the blackest medicine, vol. II – woodsist

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    Pete Nolan was Spectre Folk before drumming and strumming in Magik Markers was his main gig, and will be Spectre Folk long after he shuffles off this mortal coil. The main benefit of ghost-folk is: you can play it way after you’re dead, and while you’re alive the Spectre can haunt any decent willing body with a gift for the unreal. This time around, fellow Michigander Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) runs drums, Peter Meehan (The Grey Lady) glues guitar and Aaron Mullan (Tall Firs) slithers bass, creating an alchemy the Spectre hasn’t floated since the days of basement wig-wearing in the short-lived Norman Bates era. The band entered Echo Canyon West with the intention of recording a 7-inch of the up-tempo version of “The Blackest Medicine,” the title cut from the 2007 home-fi Woodsist debut. After several sessions, they emerged with a four-song studio collage monster that won’t fit in your locker and smells like smoked banana peels and undies blowing down an alleyway. A vibraphone, piano, and a plate reverb unit the size of a Brooklyn apartment were all employed by the Spectre like Uri Gellar used spoons—inappropriately, desperate and bent. They physically turned the two-inch reel of tape over so Meehan could put subliminal backwards masking under his Erkin-Koray-worthy guitar solo on “Fourth Dimension Refs,” and Nolan put the Temple Screamer to good use on tracks one and two, using samples of Shirley Temple Black’s “Good Ship Lollipop” as vocoder harmonies on choruses. Oh yeah, it’s full of burning psych-pop jammers, too! Earmarking Nolan’s longstanding but unspoken obsession with personal hygiene, “Keep Your Teeth Clean!” is a krauty suite that betrays Shelley’s and Mullan’s recent stint as the rhythm section for Neu! Their teutonic influence has the effect of putting the dreamy psych-fuzz exhibited on last year’s Compass LP through a blender… with a frog… that spills out into a wide open Milky Way head zone. You can’t snuggle with this record, so strap yourself in and feel the Gs! Fearless as a lemming, Nolan has created a private universe here, a Society of the Spectre-cal, if you will, and his gift is his freedom. Let’s have a drift. —Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers)