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Lama Rabi Rabi

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Album Review

The incipient fascination with and appreciation of Tibetan culture by Batoh started to fully emerge with this album, in both title, design (the title is shown on the cover art in the style of the Tibetan alphabet, while art from that culture appears on the back) and similar other signifiers. Not that Lama Rabi Rabi is strictly about that country or its situation — Ghost would wait some years more for its specific effort on that front — but it does showcase the sense of depth Batoh brings to his art, evident throughout this strong album. The lengthy, fascinating "Mastillah" starts Lama on a striking high, with a series of percussive instruments meshed with acoustic drones and low, wordless mantras, leading to a steady rhythm pace from Yamazaki through a shimmering combination of the above, mixed with flute and stringed instruments. The immediately following "Rabirabi" makes this sense of religious celebration even stronger, with Batoh's slightly distorted vocals carrying through a rhythm-driven number, at once rock (thanks especially to the bass) and not, punctuated further by a chorus chanting the title. From there on in the majority of Lama addresses the heavier jam side of the band, where acoustic instruments easily have the force of their electric counterparts and often predominate. The banjo/flute/booming drum combination of "Mex Square Blue" and the more conventionally psych-fried "Bad Bone" are two fine examples. The more stripped-down, hushed folk side of Ghost emerges as well. "Into the Alley" is stunningly lovely, Batoh and his acoustic guitar accompanied by a variety of subtle background shadings from other instruments, while the brief "My Hump Is a Shell" combines piano, guitar, and what sounds like a musical saw to rich effect. Most striking of all would be "Agate Scape," an 11-minute piece with both quiet beauty and echo-laden instrumental builds.


Formed: 1988 in Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A collective of psychedelic-minded Japanese musicians headed by guitarist Masaki Batoh, Ghost records commune-minded free-range psychedelia with equal debts to the Can/Amon Düül axis of Krautrock, as well as West Coast psych units like Blue Cheer and Jefferson Airplane. Batoh grew up in Kyoto, where he attended a private school well-geared to spark his interest in rock music, from Dylan and Pink Floyd to the Velvet Underground. Later, he formed Ghost with a large and varying lineup, centered around...
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Lama Rabi Rabi, Ghost
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