V/A - "GHOST RIDERS" 2xLP
The 2016 compilation double LP "Sky Girl", whilst not technically being the first Efficient Space release, feels in retrospect like the genesis and mission statement of the now beloved Melbourne label.
With Sky Girl, incredibly deep French diggers Julian Dechery and DJ Sundae built an entire world out of long forgotten private press and self-released detritus. Stylistically the album cruised between flitty new wave, busted crooners, minimal bedroom synthpop, haunting folk, and everywhere between. Through all of this, the album's greatest strength was it's narrative - it felt like a road trip through a whole parallel universe of forgotten music. Each piece linked to the last through a shared drive to create and build and express, despite been made often decades and continents apart.
Post the release of Sky Girl, Efficient Space has built upon that drive to excavate overlooked music, both contemporary and from decades prior. Their compilations since (Midnite Spares, Oz Waves, 3AM Spares, and Oz Echoes; all essential in their own ways) have focused specifically on movements within Australian underground music from the '80s to the early '00s.
Ghost Riders, compiled and arranged by Ivan Liechti, is their first comp without an antipodean focus since Sky Girl, and in many ways it feels like a spiritual follow-up to that first record.
Less of a straight sequel, Ghost Riders feels instead like a timeline in which we take the "American outsider garage" off-ramp on the Sky Girl road trip and see where it leads. And what a beautiful, worthwhile detour it is.
Don't be fooled by the "garage" - Nuggets this is not. Instead of pent-up teenage energy and angst, Ghost Riders gives us pent-up teenage ~emotion~. These guys and gals are absolutely pining; for what/where/when/whom, you'll have to ask them. Teenagers gazing longingly at the Haight-Ashbury from their flyover, backwater garages and desperately trying to channel that back home.
The result is an incredible capsule of not only time and place, but even more so, if you'll forgive me, vibe. Much like Sky Girl, the artists and songs in Ghost Riders are linked in the ways they hold themself. The ways they take everything from their contemporary pop culture zeitgeist and refract it through their unique, ineffable points of view. Much like Sky Girl, it feels like a missive from another slightly different dimension. Coop and Diane in Odessa.
A North American road trip of coming of age garage soul mapped by Ivan Liechti, Ghost Riders is Efficient Space’s latest narrative compilation, hovering in a liminal emotional ravine between moonlight melancholy, teenage heartache and unchecked, unrealised ambition. Across 17 open hearted ballads recorded 1965-1974, the 2LP collects and connects dots between British Invasion fanatics, child prodigies, the loners and the luckless, in a kind of trans-continental survey of those swept up in rock’n’roll mania and buoyed by local newspaper ads promising fame and gold records. From the tangerine dreams of 8th grade all-girl combo The Mod 4 to the tri-state jukebox aspiring echoes of The Tempters, The Yardleys' poetic Farfisa vamp and lilting folk pop, and The Landlords’ weepy break up b-side blues, these are mostly one shots by dreamers whose experience was brief before being checked back to the reality of suburban normality and realistic career options. Hailing from the regional backwaters of Illinois, Arkansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Ohio, Idaho, Texas and beyond, the licensed artists were scouted by way of local fire departments, spiritualist fellowships and animal welfare centres, often barely a stones throw from where their contributions were originally laid. A barely teenage Dennis Harte's ‘Summer’s Over’ perhaps best taps the collection’s essence. A gut-wrenching lament of the passing of the season as if it was the last on earth. Flanked by players from The Left Banke, Harte, a now-piano tuner to the stars, is from the minor segment that found longevity in showbiz. Likewise with Michigan icon Lyn Nowicki who cast her ghostly voice over Beatles cover song chameleons The Common People and Jerry McGee, The Ventures member and conduit of Dr. John’s ‘Twilight Zone’. Ghost Riders simmers with the scent of youthful summers, the pang of schoolyard romance, and the excitement (and disenchantment) of teenage naïveté, delivered via a deceptively simple and frequently wonky garage band set up. The vision of record collector and graphic designer Ivan Liechti, these eternal psych-folk howlers are further crystallised by Colin Young’s fastidious audio restoration, the original artwork of Elise Gagnebin-de Bons and an aptly penned foreword from Sonic Boom.
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