by Paul Newsom
Ghoskeeper’s Multidimensional Culture sounds whimsical, nostalgic, mystical, and weird. Variously inspired by pow wow music, the great pop bands of the 60s, and seemingly more subgenres than could be neatly listed, the record feels as complicated as it does Canadian.
“Summer Child” – the closest thing to a sombre track on the whole record – sounds like the soundtrack portion for a dream sequence in a 70s cult film, cutting an otherwise warm record with a hint of dreamy detachment. Shane Ghostkeeper seems to ape Lou Reed with frequent single- and several-word sang/spoken deliveries, sliding more to one extreme or the other as songs’ narratives demand. Fellow vocalist Sarah Houle provides a melodic contrast to Shane with wispy, soaring lines accented now and then by vibrato.
Yet more compelling than the emulation of any vintage, eclectic influences is the channelling of said influences through the lens of Ghostkeeper’s Indigenous heritage, shooting tracks through with transcendental depth. “This is a reckoning of perception…a smooth redemption,” sings Ghostkeeper on Ancestral.
“We make sound to witness that which creates us…ancestral selves working on Multidimensional Culture.” The album’s lyrics run the gamut of serious through whimsical through challenging through comforting – sometimes within a single line.
The album’s perpetual inclusion of radically different sounds in the same sequence – jazz brushes rattling snare drums, phased guitar sounds coming and going like guests, and all manner of space-age guitar feedback harmonizing with vocal sections – is initially strange to make sense of. Yet the album’s lyrics (and those of Ancestral, in particular) hint that this clamour represents.
Ghostkeeper’s connectedness with his ancestors is present in every snare strike and wailing guitar string. Shane simultaneously credits and embodies this connection through the album’s ongoing and ever-changing instrumental flair.
It is not easy making albums that sound good, and nor is it easy to make albums that sound purposeful. Ghostkeeper has pulled off both these aims with Multidimensional Culture, which grows more interesting with every listen. Scattered like clues through the tracklist, everything the band had intended to say is carefully and humbly situated with awesome purpose.
For fans of: St. Vincent, Silver Jews, The Velvet Underground