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Glass Ghost
spirits of the radio
by: Andrew Spaulding - April 7, 2010

The end of 2009 saw a lot of bands like Real Estate, Washed Out, and Glass Ghost producing tired blissful sounds. It was like the whole crowd of music listeners had had a fantastic busy summer and wanted their winter music to remind them what drinking a clandestine beer on the beach was like. Glass Ghost plays syncopated tropicalía rhythms over warm, eccentric keyboard riffs. Eliot Krimsky sings with a bouncy falsetto croon not too distant from Thom Yorke’s timbre.
Eliot and Mike were formerly members of the band called Flying whose final album came out in 2008 on Menlo Park Recordings. I managed to catch Flying back in 07 during CMJ where they played a high hat with a flip-flop. It was charming. Since then Glass Ghost has replaced the “Moldy Peaches” type whimsy of former Flying members Sara Magenheimer and Eben Portnoy with a more subtle strangeness built into their song structure and overall sound. They omit the twee that their cohorts in Flying brought to reveal confident songwriting craftsmanship, particularly on the laid back song “The Same.” Their album Idol Omen is patient and cool, revealing itself slowly upon each listen. It gives room to breathe between beats. It allows the songs to bloom with overdubbed harmonies and subtle keyboard swells.
I met up with the two guys at Kellogg’s diner off the Lorimer stop on the L train, this is what they had to say:

[M: Mike Johnson - E: Eliot Krimske]
You guys toured with White Rabbits, opened for Dirty Projectors and had Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic) and Joan Wasser (Joan as Police Woman) sing in your record. Are you really good at PR or just lucky to know all these people?
E: There is an amazing community and network of musicians and bands in New York. Some of them go back 10 years, and some of them we have met recently. Dave Sheinkopf form the Subjects, our good friend , has toured with the White Rabbits, and he introduced them to us. Both MIke and I have known Luke for a really long time, we have both played with him a lot, he is a good friend. I met him in Boston almost ten years ago, and I've felt really close to his music, whether because of playing with him, or being on the same label (Flying, was on MIllpond records with Luke in 2006). It feels like we have almost grew up together in a way, I played a CMJ show with Luke ages ago when he was doing his solo thing, and to see his music develop from that to Here We Go Magic has been really cool and totally inspiring. Mike played with Joan on a Britney Spears cover for her covers album, and Tyler who produced our record is in her group now. Mike goes way back with Nat Baldwin from the Dirty Projectors, they went to college together for a year. Flying played with Dirty Projectors back in the day at the Cake Shop when it was Dave , two drummers and a bass player. To see their development has also been astounding . I think one of the main points of playing music is to develop a musical community that you grow with, and to see that happen has been really rewarding.

So how was the tour?
E: it was good… a lot of driving, it was a pretty intense tour. The locations were really spread out. We went everywhere - the Northeast, the Midwest and Phoenix and up the West Coast.
M: Yeah it was really exhausting, but really good shows.
E: White Rabbits were really great – their music is really great and high energy and they’re great guys.

You played in Phoenix? My brother lives there, It’s kind of a weird town – there doesn’t seem to be anything going on out there.
E: Well there’s this venue in a strip mall called “The Clubhouse” - pretty cool venue, we had a great turnout and the audience was very warm.
M: Yeah, we’ve gone on other small tours but this was the first time we were able to play consistently to audiences.
E: We didn’t have to worry about booking shows, which was great.

Did you ever go on tour with Flying?
M: Yes, We went to this festival in Switzerland and did little tours, played with Deerhoof. Most of them were set up by us – we didn’t have a booking agency, we played some good shows and some bad, you know? Places with three people...

I mean that’s how it goes sometimes when you book your own shows. What happened with Flying?
E: We were together for 4 years. I think Eliot quit and then it was 3 of us and we were having a hard time and not agreeing on everything. It just kind of naturally fizzled out.
M: Those two kids are married now & so they had a really strong connection and were living together. They also were coming from an art school background while Elliot and I are from a musical background.
E: Which was what was really cool about Flying until it worked - we made some amazing music stemming from the differences we had, which I think eventually is also what made the project break. Now they’ve got a band with just the two of them that’s amazing. They are called 'Fertile Crescent', I heard a recording from the new album.

Your debut record (out on Dirty Projectors’ same label, Western Vinyl) had great reviews, do you have new material for a follow up?
E: We have a lot of stuff written already so yeah we hopefully are going to get going on that & we’re doing some shows in NYC in the next month or two.

What do you guys do in your off time when you’re not playing music?
M: I work in a coffee shop - E: I teach piano to kids.

When you use a keyboard setup do you use , midi and sequencers? stuff like that? or straightforward?
E: no midi or anything, it’s all live. I have a Mood Prodigy I use for the bass lines - its an old one, from the seventies, it’s in a wooden case. Then I have a very retro Rhodes for more percussive bass sounds and then a Nord wave for other stuff. It has a lot of sampling capabilities but tend to go for Mellotron sounds and mix that with synthesizers.

Mellotron? That was the granddad of the sampler, correct?
E: Yeah, a Mellotron is like a Sixties keyboard that triggered tapes. Each key triggered a different tape recorded at different pitch - they sounds played back by the Mellotron. It sounds really haunting because from the tapes you get all that warblyness. The Beatles used it on Strawberry Fields. On the Nord wave there are samples of it – that’s what we use a lot.
M: Stairway to Heaven I think that may have one, you know the keyboard sound in Stairway to heaven?

There’s a keyboard in that?
M: yeah at the beginning, it sounds like a flute.

Yeah, so your CD release party on the 24th of January is that for the record that yr doing right now?
E: No we’re gonna call it our CD release for this record. - A: The one that came out a couple of months ago. -E: Yeah, we were on tour when it came out so we didn’t have a chance to do it some justice. - M: We’re trying to figure out how to do it.

I guess we’re done, you guys have any shout outs?
M: Kelloggs diner, we’d like to thank Kelloggs for doing this…
(laughter)


 
 

"I think one of the main points of playing music is to develop a musical community that you grow with, and to see that happen has been really rewarding."


Glass Ghost
"Idol Omen"


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Sparse beats and unconventional electronic goodness.