Bel esprit Sean Ono Lennon is something of a magus, but considering his lineage, it comes as no surprise. Along with his elfin girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Lennon founded The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT) in 2008. Now, on Midnight Sun, the artistic duo have finally brought a full band on board, shifting their sonic palette into interstellar overdrive. The phantoms of Pink Floyd, the Flaming Lips and the Beatles definitely shine on throughout this Magical Mystery Tour for the 21st century. The band is shaded with cinematic overtones of Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky, leaving us to wonder if the disc is emblematic of a tongue-in-cheek camp send-up. Is it a Fluxus conceptual project or the dawning of a new cult? Perhaps it’s all of the above. “Too Deep” opens the album with a heavy groove as Lennon’s and Muhl’s harmonies float above a gritty “Hey Bulldog” bassline. Next, “Xanadu” finds the meeting point between Os Mutantes and Beck. On the addictive-as-hell “Animals,” Lennon distills his father’s absurdist wit with the clever lyrics: “Do you believe what you read in the tea leaves? / Messages from Jesus in the grease upon the grilled cheese.” By contrast, Charlotte’s willowy vocals on “Johannesburg” call to mind Jane Birkin. Intriguingly, the group also covers the often-sung titular song from the 1947 romantic spy film starring Marlene Dietrich as a Gypsy: “Golden Earrings” — only GOASTT’s version sounds less like Peggy Lee’s classic rendition and more like obscure ‘60s psych-band Gandalf’s haunting take on the tune. The ear-y “Poor Paul Getty” is the album’s tragic history lesson, and closing cut “Moth to a Flame” is a freaked-out descendant of Floyd’s “Echoes,” replete with lap-steel via wah-wah pedal and a post-apocalyptic vibe. At the end of the ride, Midnight Sun is a playfully quixotic time warp of an album that begs the question: If Sean is the Walrus, is Charlotte the Eggwoman?
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
Friday, July 18, 2014
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