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Love and death: these are the only themes. So it’s been in Simon Joyner’s twenty years of making records—from 1992’s Umbilical Chords cassette to his new double LP, Ghosts. Over the course of a thirteen-album career in which he’s produced a multitude of sounds and musical influences on a multitude of independent labels, he’s only made two other proper double-albums (1997’s Yesterday, Tomorrow and In Between and 2001’s Hotel Lives). Both are classics of his discography, and Ghosts follows in their footsteps, creating and inhabiting a world in which Joyner’s thematic preoccupations can be explored carefully and fully. Recorded on reel-to-reel in Joyner’s warehouse on a sixteen-track tape machine over many months, Ghosts sounds unlike any Joyner record. The influence of dark, ’60s and ’70s private-press psych and folk records, as well as the noisy, transcendent music of New Zealand heroes like This Kind of Punishment, Alastair Galbraith and The Dead C are highlighted on this experimental, full-band song-cycle that pays subtle as well as brazen homage to several influential double-albums (perhaps most obviously with its Exile on Main Street-inspired gatefold artwork). Joyner’s music gathers acolytes rather than casual fans, contributing to his “songwriter’s songwriter” status and inspiring comparisons to other artists like Bill Fay, Townes Van Zandt, David Blue, and Leonard Cohen. Ghosts is an all-analog album (recorded and mastered), and available vinyl-only with a full digital download included.
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