Ghost Story

Phideaux

Bloodfish Music, 2004

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/09/2004

Longtime readers of the DV will know that Phideaux's Fiendish was my co-CD of the year in 2003. I got my hands on it late in its 'shelf life'; so late, in fact, that Phideaux has already had time to follow it up with his latest release, Ghost Story. This begs the question; could Ghost Story be as good as Fiendish?

The answer, O Ye DV Faithful, is a resounding no. It's not as good. It's better.

For those of you who have not been paying attention, Phideaux is a relentlessly independent musician. You can get Fiendish free for the asking; extra copies are very, very cheap on CDBaby.com, as is Ghost Story. Phideaux Xavier isn't in this to make money; he's in this because he keeps discovering these songs, see, that need performed -- and, indeed, most if not all of them are freakin' brilliant. The difference on nbtc__dv_250 Ghost Story is that while in retrospect Phideaux has seemed a little tentative in the past, he has thrown all restraint to the winds and kicked out the proverbial jams. When your CD starts with the crunchy, driving guitar of "Everynight," you aren't trying to be subtle about what you have to say. There is more whip-cracking electric guitar (provided by Xavier and Mark Sherkus) on Ghost Story, and it's tasty as being in the first row on "Emeril Live" without all those annoying BAMs.

It would be remiss to not mention the mix and production on Ghost Story. Gabriel Moffat is utterly brilliant; his mixes and sonic flourishes pop up in the oddest places and turn Ghost Story into a funhouse ride of bizarreness. Add to that touches like a fat minimoog flourish on "A Curse Of Miracles" (which is, by the way, a great title), and you have a CD that is just a funhouse ride of musical surprises. The musicianship is excellent; in addition to Xavier and Sherkus' guitar work, Rich Hutchins provides solid percussion and Sam Fenster lays down a throbbing, insistent bass part that keeps the music going.

What to me is perhaps most miraculous is that Ghost Story avoids being either self-indulgent or dysfunctionally obfuscative, the Scylla and Charybdis of most progressive rock. (This statement assumes that Phideaux is progressive rock, something I'm not sure of some days.) Instead, it stays as tight as Ebenezer Scrooge at a day-after-Thanksgiving sale, impeccably paced and performed, never weighed down by its own complexity. It can even tear at your heartstrings; on the devastating "Universally," Phideaux's guitar playing stutters once, like a voice breaking, and it's enough to make your own breath catch.

I could go through and enumerate the tracks one by one, but why? They're all great. Ghost Story continues the sheer wonderfulness that is Phideaux. Get this CD. Today. NOW. Support a true independent and find out what you've been missing.

For more information and to order Phideaux's Ghost Story , click here.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2004 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bloodfish Music, and is used for informational purposes only.