Electric sake acid test

Japanese rockers Ghost trip on psychedelic sounds

Keri Carlson

Japanese music, (at least the stuff we can find in the United States), often sounds like strangely translated U.S. pop. The music is obviously derived from U.S. styles, yet it sounds distinctly Japanese; not because the songs are in a different language or in broken English, but because of an added quality that sweetens up the music.

How exactly Japanese music differs is hard to explain and understand, except that it is a kind of ultra pop. Other than that insight, there is no distinct ingredient – with exception of the band Ghost.

Ghost is heavily influenced by U.S psychedelic bands. They contain a hippy quality with long jams of meandering, loud guitars, booming drums and a chance for each instrument to be prominently featured during each song.

Despite the prevailing inspiration from U.S bands (as well as British bands such as Led Zeppelin), you can still tell Ghost is from Japan. Unlike some other Japanese bands, Ghost uses exotic elements in their music which make it clear they are not a U.S band.

Beneath Michio Kurihara’s sonic guitar, the other members of Ghost create an awing ambiance from flutes, tablas, contrabasses and a number of other instruments. These landscapes, which linger beautifully throughout Ghost’s works, are steeped in Japanese folk not heard as distinctly in other Japanese rock bands.

These tranquil backgrounds slowly build into lush psychedelia that’s much deeper and richer than the U.S. and British bands of the 1960s. Ghost adds a strange haunting force to a genre already trippy on its own.