Monday, February 19, 2007
A Ghost to Kill Again—s/t (self-released)
I’ve been having nightmares where I’m the drummer for A Ghost to Kill Again, strapped in behind the kit and trying to keep up with their furious algo-rhythms. I always wake up just before my arms fall off and my head explodes. Enduring this kind of nocturnal anxiety is a small price to pay to have AGTKA’s new album in my life. Their music is a juggernaut of jagged time changes, instrumental interplay, and catchy melodies, here captured in glorious detail at The Hive Studios in Burnaby. The guitars of Aaron Joyce and Alvaro Rojas ring out clear and loud, tying elaborate knots around each other with their complimentary lines. In Cory Curtis and Sam Cartwright they’ve got a superhumanly dextrous rhythm section able to throw down whatever the songs demand—and they demand a whole hell of lot, believe me. Imagine Fugazi playing Gentle Giant, or latter-day King Crimson attacking their material with the fire of men half their age. In terms of other bands playing unabashed prog these days, AGTKA can certainly rival the Mars Volta—56 minutes of AGTKA packs in twice as much musical goodness as 77 minutes of Frances the Mute—and songs like “Radio,” “Shots” and “Halo” are better than anything Tool coughed up on 10,000 Days. As someone who’s seen them live a few times now and fully expected a holocaust in the instrumental department, the album’s biggest revelation is the variety of vocals they’ve laid down. Aaron Joyce can certainly sell a song, but the massed singing that pops up at times—a good example would be the climax of “Radio,” where a typically twisted instrumental passage gives way to the catchiest line of the song (“You know they won’t stop till everything we have is gone” or something like that)—is a stunning addition. The shouted gang vocals on “The Mountain” and “Sands” are a nice touch as well. With bands like Precious Fathers, Mother Mother, Bend Sinister, and A Ghost to Kill Again going at it full bore, Vancouver is now truly a progressive rock town (I’ve been waiting about 30 years to write that sentence), and AGTKA have just put out Canada's prog record of the year. Suck on that, Rush!