Heavy Ghost

Heavy Ghost

by D.M. Stith


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Most everything about DM Stith's remarkable debut suggests that it's something of an anomaly. Heavy Ghost adheres to few preconceived notions belonging to any one movement or style, but sounds like it could have been influenced by any number of factors just barely out of the range of recognition. The sheer magnetism of this music lies in its subtly skewed intricacies: acoustic guitars strummed in atypical ways, chords carried through slight transmutations in almost hidden rhythmic patterns, and ghostly background voices that come and go unpredictably. Through it all is Stith's delicate, captivating voice, which is somewhere between a more tuneful Devendra Banhart and a less straightforward Sufjan Stevens. Though he has a well-controlled and deliberate vocal cadence, there's also a whimsical nature to the way his beautifully melodic phrases effortlessly weave in and out of the stormy music underneath. It feels almost as if he's singing to the listener as part of a dream, or better yet, to one who is half-asleep and only partially aware of his or her surroundings: these pieces are mysterious and somehow just out of reach, and all the more affective for it. Stith performs a minor miracle in the way he balances the many forces at work here, since the music nearly always feels like it has room to breathe, even when it approaches cacophonous levels. A stately brass melody seamlessly emerges halfway through "Thanksgiving Moon," maintaining a lofty distance from the layer of marimba and other instruments, and providing the perfect counterpoint to his wavering vocals. "Fire of Birds," like many songs here, is outfitted with fleeting orchestral flourishes, pitter-pattering percussion, and a windswept buildup, where he leads a chorus of voices repeatedly singing "We dance like we're all on fire." There's a certain amount of jubilation to the way the line is delivered, but the more he says it, the more disturbing it becomes -- one of many such pieces of intriguing imagery on Heavy Ghost. Stith creates a consistently pensive, occasionally intense, mood on the album, but it's also loose and highly textured, and ultimately quite moving.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/10/2009
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
UPC: 0656605604428
catalogNumber: 56044
Rank: 113809

Album Credits

Performance Credits

D.M. Stith   Primary Artist
Brian Casey   French Horn
Rafter Roberts   Bass,Cymbals,Vocals,Background Vocals
Sufjan Stevens   Piano
Shara Worden   Background Vocals
Marla Hansen   Viola
Bob Danner   Tuba
Jose Delhart   Lap Steel Guitar
Stephen Edel   Trombone
Elizabeth Irwin   Trumpet
Dustin Ragland   Drums
Carl Irwin   Trumpet
Osso   Strings
Jose Delhart   Lap Steel Guitar
Sebastian Krueger   Clarinet

Technical Credits

Sufjan Stevens   Sound Effects,Contributor
David Stith   Arranger,Composer,Contributor,String Arrangements,Brass Arrangment,Woodwind Arrangement
D.M. Stith   Composer

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