Sonically speaking, you need to be at this party
All Things BGP - Black Ghost Party (self released)
It’s fact, not theory, that when Sydney and Brisbane musicians of a certain age and underground persuasion seek a sea change, they head for the New South Wales Far North Coast. And why not? It’s often wet and always humid, but the parts not spoiled by hideous yuppies and mad anti-vaxxers are damned idyllic.
Can’t tell you whether all the members of Black Ghost Party are Lismore born and bred or blow-ins from the Big Smoke, but it’s not important. They’ve been alternately cajoling and searing local ears since at least 2004 so they're part of the furniture, and this release of 11 songs is available on LP or as a download.
Black Ghost Party's negligible online footprint describes them as a core trio and a “grungey folky thing, Will Oldham chatting with Nirvana while Smog and Sonic Youth play cards with Big Black and Neil Young out the back”. With trash talk like that, you’d better hope they’re good. Rest easy, pardner. BGP might be the most fearsomely talented band you’ve never heard of.
This is band with a keen sense of its own dynamics. Live, BGP plays a mix of acoustic and fully amped sets. On record, the core band of Rod Black, Adam Button and Matt Lee is richly supplemented by violin, piano and percussion.The album sweeps from stark, country-flecked blues to overdriven, distorted rockers.
BGP’s cleverness lies in their contradictions. “Mr Black Must Die” contains enough gruff attitude tempered by a sweet melody to make you sit up and take notice from the get-go. The yin of the country-fried Byrds meeting the yang of a not-so-sloppy Crazy Horse armed with an axe.
Like the storms that drop down on Lismore with 10 minutes warning, the nasty songs do sneak up on you. Just when you’ve slipped into a country-rock lull by “Judas”, an abrasive grinder like “Cockroach Sunday” slips into earshot. Then there’s the bag of sonic shards that is “Chasing a Nightmare” which sounds like the Bad Seeds before they became a lounge singer’s backing band.
BGP is capable of beauty. The lilting piano and swooning violin that underpins the six-minute “Sick Bay” are seductive as they are sweet. There’s a big degree of power under the hood, though, and it’s on show in the overdriven guitar histrionics of “High”.
And then the swelling presence of “With a Little Love” – a song borrowed from Lismore legends SLUG – brings you right back to earth.
You gonna press for a direct comparator? For mine, BGP is the rain forest dwelling cousin of The Dexateens, the equally unruly tumbleweed combo from Alabama. Like most good things, BGP might be hard to find, so use the link below. Don't be afraid: It's a Bandcamp thing so you get to try before you buy.