Sunday, June 27, 2004

Wilco's 'Ghost': Living in an Ethereal World

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's influence on Wilco's "A Ghost Is Born" seems to be on every critics mind these days. A review in by David Segal observes that Wilco has one of the highest inverse ratio's of critical acclaim to sales. I.e., great reviews and low sales. Sort of like Young's music?!

    "The album, Wilco's fifth, is an experiment that only the initiated will enjoy. In fact, if the cult of Wilco has mystified you so far, 'Ghost' is sure to deepen the mystery. What can you say about a song like 'Less Than You Think,' which ends with 12 wordless minutes of what sounds like intergalactic radio hum. 'Well, nobody has tried that before' is one thing you could say. 'I'm never sitting through that again' is another.

    You might admire the nerve it took Tweedy to play the numbingly long electric guitar solo on the album opener, 'At Least That's What You Said,' reaching for the wearying effect that Neil Young achieved in live jams with his band Crazy Horse. Or you might wonder what kind of lunatic would plop such an inhospitable welcome mat at the front of an album, one that all but dares listeners to go knock on someone else's door.

    'Ghost' is a rethinking of rock's mannerisms that mostly reminds you why these mannerisms became so popular in the first place. With production by Jim O'Rourke, who hails from the niche world of electro-acoustic rock, the album has the feel of a disoriented confession; it seems to take place in a landscape of the mind where almost nothing is familiar. There is a drug deal happening on 'Handshake Drugs,' the Devil swings by for a how-do-you-do on 'Hell Is Chrome,' but otherwise, the lyrics leave you anxiously stranded, without reference points, in a psychedelic heap. "


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