See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Body voicings

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Within the private rooms of Jason Molina’s past Songs:Ohia albums, listeners have often found themselves bound to the dramatic confessions of an acute musician and theatrical craftsman. The Lioness, last year’s album, exposed such haunting melodies: The grave instrumentation was devastating when stripped bare by Molina’s characteristically stark, wavering voice. Each song was inevitably a gift of generous honesty and vulnerability. And if confession was the tone that made that album seem so intimate, then Molina’s newest, Ghost Tropic (to be released on Nov. 23), is more like a follow-up of musical repentance and sacrifice.

Working with Ali Roberts and members of the band Lullaby for the Working Class, Molina has recorded a thick, atmospheric album. Each song feels distinctly incensed with ritualistic melody and rhythm. Ancient worldly waltzes move in front of the slow — almost still — tilt of his voice. The sad cycle of electric guitar moans and synthesized organ groans is not found in this record — it has been replaced with a wide variety of spicy instruments. In “The Body Burned Away,” old Eastern European dance traditions are brought to life with the loose strum of a guitar, the swish of maracas and the subtle bell of finger-cymbals. And in the title track, there’s no need for a true sense of rhythm when there is nature’s symphony of a wet forest in the tropics, the echo of birds lofting through treetops.

But don’t misunderstand these lush landscapes: Ghost Tropic’s weighty musical movement is still carried by empty space. This looming music is profound — emotionally tolerable in the first place — because we will always long for that which is absent. We want to locate the roaming melody and distill the lyrical ambiguity. Thankfully, in Ghost Tropic, this vacancy has become a more full-bodied, meditative calling.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit