Profile: Followed by Ghosts

photo via the band's official site
Origin: Waverly, IA, United States
Genre: post-rock, instrumental, math rock

Followed by Ghosts was a band who quit last June to tackle other projects, but earlier this year, they announced that they're back at it. Still, cancelling their summer tour (save for one show) wasn't an entirely positive start. The good news is that they're taking the time to work on a third album. I do believe the band writes as a collective, considering the prolifically close debut and sophomore releases.

The Entire City Was Silent
July 10th, 2008

"Hymn of Twilight": I checked this earlier album out upon hearing (and loving) Dear Monsters, Followed by Ghosts's second release, so forgive my slight bias towards the latter. As far as diversity goes, The City is on top, but as exhibited in the sudden dynamic change at 3:15, not quite so polished. There's a difference between being raw and being in need of improved (or more often than not, additional time in) production. Unfortuantely, it was painful enough to turn my speakers down a couple notches.

"A Mirthful Experience": This album was allegedly recorded in various churches, which I don't doubt. In fact, it explains some of the balance and imbalance. Of all the times I've personally performed in churches, there was maybe once where the acoustics were decent. Generally, they're interesting and best reserved for live shows, in my opinion. Just like generic show venues where no matter how trustworthy your camera is, it never picks up clear, exact tones. Back to the song, I applaud drummer David Maixner's use of mallets and a marching snare in the midsection.

"Recording first album"; via Facebook
"Clear Blue Sky": One of the band's more popular pieces alongside "A New Dawn", comprised of that relentless mid-song acceleration, a spotlight on percussion, and constant instrumental changes. There's always something new to focus your ears on.

"Manifest Destiny": I suppose this hushed hastening is Followed by Ghosts's trademark. I'll stop complaining (however, I wrote up the tracks on Dear Monsters first, so there might be more there). Beyond the infamous you-know-what, "Manifest Destiny" is a short, sweet track, clocking in at 1:38. It's too quick to think about, so just enjoy it.

"City of Noise": Only slightly contradictory with the album title, I suppose this thoughtful track adds depth to the meaning of such a phrase. There are the shimmers of streetlights; jaywalkers rushing to hail twilight taxis; the occasional late night police/EMS sirens; a shattered glass bottle thrown out the window here and there; and the scheduled changing of traffic lights, though the intersection is empty. The rhythmic return of daylight commences at the 7 minute mark.

"A New Dawn": I'm not surprised that the favourite amongst fans, critics, and post-rock enthusiasts is "A New Dawn". The only song which employs traditional, unaltered piano, sandwiched between fuzzy screeching guitar and excessive crash cymbal.

photo via Facebook
"The Entire City Was Silent": Track opens with voices; some tinkering, then full piano; doors opening and shutting. Gorgeous string and vocal arrangements. Brilliant harmonies and a steady beat kept by something I can't name- sounds like a beeping button. I can't help but think this is perfect for those melodramatic movie/commercial monologues- a tip for you filmmakers. But it's pretty on it's own, too.

Purchase this album digitally on iTunes or via CD Baby.

Dear Monsters, Be Patient
October 22nd, 2007

"5:52 am": This hasn't been the only occasion I've been enticed and mislead by an opening track (proof). For the first 30 seconds, Dear Monsters, Be Patient is one of those bizarre-not-calming "Sounds of Nature" discs- I know, because there's a Morning on the Farm somewhere in the house. The remaining span is pretty in a Madonna's "Ray of Light" -vox way, but excruciatingly repetitive with its psyche buildups. Congratulations, boys, you have awoken the sleeping baby; now let us smoothly merge into track no. 2.

"Dear Monsters,": The atmosphere tenses in fuzzy dissonance before resuming another ostinato that subsequently leads into a more traditional guitar opening. My sarcasm in these paragraphs is wasted; rather, I've loved it so far. Especially now with the return of marching snare drum. Parallel rhythms create a tad much unity, but only for a short 0:12 at the end.

"Riga": Starting with unconventional tones and intervals may have lost listeners, but the ones that stuck around know that "Riga" is nothing usual. There's a gypsy feel to the main theme and I want to say there's horn instrumentation. Nah, it's probably just pedal or heavy effects. Or no, better yet, it's a melodica! Another gapless transition.

"Showdown At High Noon": Maixner took his kit out into the Sahara desert. His bandmates followed. The wind howls like coyotes at night. But the guitars are serenading the sun. Okay, winds pick up at 3:21; it's a sandstorm. 4:00 sees an increasingly frenzied run for cover.

"Discussion Among Men": Appropriately, this must be the ensuing calm after the storm. There's a lonesome quality to the melody, and the distant echo of percussion doesn't waver or strengthen until a third of the way through. Even then, it's mellow and complementary. The final third is in a quicker tempo, similar to "Showdown". I have to criticize the manner in which Followed by Ghosts execute these changes, though- they'd be less sloppy-sounding at a more gradual incline. It's like playing a slide note at the speed right now.

"All Is Lost": Another lovely, quiet, downtempo melody. The entire album possesses an entrapped energy, only made obvious in short spurts. Fading to nothingness at around 2 minutes makes this my least favourite track on the album. Instead of providing interest, I find it an uneventful lull in the music. The last minute is a chime-filled lullaby with string-like phrases that are about to break into a techno-"Ave Maria" anytime now. Naw, I'm just playing with you.

"Be Patient": The second title track is blessedly percussion-driven, something I'd like to have heard more of, along with anthemic, headbob-allowing guitars. Borrowed straight out of a pop punk bible, no doubt. But to no one's surprise by now, the track is a symphony, sectioned off into movements. Sleigh bells kill the rocking second movement at 3:00, then disappear into the buildup towards the third movement: a grand all-encompassing, busy wall of sound. Then it breaks into a canter at 5:23, easily identified as the liveliest part of Dear Monsters, Be Patient. Yet another one of those accelerated racecar finishes. Ooh, followed by birds! They've come full circle.

Purchase this album digitally on iTunes or via CD Baby.

photo via Facebook
They draw upon more classical techniques (whether they know it or not) than most instrumental rock groups. LIYL Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You. Development is inevitable, but this next album had better be good. Y'all brought this one upon yourselves by cancelling dates!

Followed by Ghosts is Daniel Payne and Mitchell Avery (guitars), Jordan Bancroft-Smithe (bass), David Maixner (drums).

EDIT- I just received an email from David, explaining the tour cancellation. Here's what he and the band had to say about it.
Canceling tour was a very hard decision. This year was extremely hard to get any responses out of venues, promoters, or even bands. It was quite odd. So it goes without a label or management.

Fortunately, we are using the time off work to complete our album. Let me tell you, we are really excited about this one. It's a bit different, but we're totally psyched.