Crafting each sound from scratch with unapologetic, exacting precision, Holy Ghost!’s penchant for in-the-studio perfectionism has delivered hit after hit to the dancefloor. This analog approach to “electronic” music heavily informs the band’s third album Workcoming June 21, 2019 on West End Records.
A return to the heady ethos that drove Holy Ghost!’s earliest releases, Work sees New York City natives Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser revisit the freedom from expectations that suffused their 2011 self-titled debut full-length. It was a situation that stemmed partly from circumstances: They dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and moved to a small room that a few musician friends were renting above a doctor’s office (incidentally the same address where they mixed Holy Ghost!). Due to space limitations, they pared their extensive gear collection down to just two synths, a Yamaha CS80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowie didn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”
The 12-song collection features the buoyant but bittersweet, “Do This” which interweaves ambient chatter from a studio session with a Nile Rodgers-esque guitar, “Nicky Buckingham’s” Fleetwood Mac-inspired riffs and swelling strings are eerily danceable, whereas “Heaven Knows What” – the band’s slowest track to date – showcases an emotional depth and range only hinted at in past releases. Featuring the talents of musical peers including Sinkane’s Ahmed Gallab, Juan Maclean and LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang, Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Paul Simon, David Bowie) and Alex Epton (Neon Indian, David Byrne), Work transcends its physical constraints to capture a spectrum of vibes that remain true to Holy Ghost!’s reverence for the art and craft of dance music.
The juxtaposition of organic and metropolitan is embodied in the album’s cover image Wheatfield – A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan – The Harvest, 1982 by renowned conceptual artist Agnes Denes.
“We’ve been obsessed with images of The Harvest for years,” explains Frankel. “On a purely visual level, its infinitely surreal and beautiful. On a more conceptual level, as artists born in NYC the same year the field was planted, we’ve been drawn to it as statement about the value of process: You simply make something here, you plant the field, you do the “work”, and then over time its meaning changes shapes along with the city and world around it. We are eternally grateful to Agnes for giving us this image to use as the cover for our third full-length album. And we could not be more proud to be releasing this album on West End Records”
West End Records was established in 1976 by pioneering producer Mel Cheren (1933-2007), who is credited with ushering in the 12” remix single via music from luminaries such as Walter Gibbons, François Kevorkian, Larry Levan, Tom Moulton, and Arthur Russell. Cheren is also known for his AIDS activism in the 1980s. The label was recently featured at MoMA PS1’s third annual Come Together: Music Festival and Label Market, where a collection of rare printed materials from the foundational New York City record label and early days of disco was on display.
Epton on Broadway Part I
Epton on Broadway Part II
Heaven Knows What
One For Pete
My Happy House
Escape From Los Angeles
Upcoming Holy Ghost! Live Shows:
04-26 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
04-27 Los Angeles, CA – Globe Theatre
05-03 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
05-09 Guadalajara, México – Corona Capital at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
06-21 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom (Album Release Show)