Heavy Ghost Appendices
Heavy Ghost, the debut album from DM Stith, cast an almost supernatural effect on reviewers and fans when it was released in March of 2009. Both groups acclaimed it as a stunning debut unlike anything else they’d heard. Stith’s peers received it well too: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear twittered about it calling it a “lovely album,” and Bat for Lashes picked Heavy Ghost for her New York Times playlist, saying “It traverses all these magical landscapes… almost like Alice through the looking glass. Like you’re being sucked into a secret world.”
Heavy Ghost Appendices revisits this secret world and adds to its cartography a series of hidden coves, unexplored forests, and new landscapes. Heavy Ghost was also mystifying and intertwined to David when he wrote it; the Appendices were a means to sort the thing out in his mind. They physically collect the digital trilogy of EPs released over the course of the summer and fall of 2009 into a beautifully packaged limited edition double disc set. The EPs were an exercise in exploring the boundaries of the music contained on Heavy Ghost, revisiting songs, reinterpreting, and displaying some inspiration and influences through covers of other artists. The Remixes helped provide new context and deconstruction of his songs in a way that unearthed the songs’ roles and relationships to one another.
The two discs are divided between the covers/reworkings and the remixes. The first disc includes an astonishing rendition of Randy Newman’s “Suzanne” and a David Lynch-esque version of the The Ronettes “Be My Baby.” There is a serene tenderness in Stith’s cover of David Byrne’s “A Soft Seduction” while he turns Diane Cluck’s “Easy To Be Around” into a menacing overture. Included are also new renditions of his own songs including “Around the Lion Legs”, the marching band gut punch of a re-envisioned “Pigs”, as well as a collaboration with labelmates I Heart Lung turning “Wig” into an ambient free jazz swirling haze.
The remix disc offers up myriad interpretations from some of electronic music’s most distinct voices as well as a a smokey jazz version of “Thanksgiving Moon” by Dayna Kurtz. Michna provides a tropical dance remix, Rafter turns “Thanksgiving Moon” into a doombeat terror, Roberto Carlos Lange (Savath & Savalas, Helado Negro, Prefuse 73) infuses “BMB” with latin experimentation, while Son Lux interprets the same song with a unique sort of polka glitch. Bibio’s remix of “Abraham’s Song” takes Stith’s voice into the realm of saturated electro-acoustics while FatCat glitch artist and Bjork collaborator, Ensemble, and Warp recording artist Clark offer their own unique approach to Stith’s music both reworking “Braid of Voices”. The Appendices also includes the expansive 11 minute shoegaze electronics of Actuel.
For such a strange young voice, 2009 has been a wild and beautiful year and this new collection provides a reflective compendium to Stith’s debut album.