Ghost Dubs and the Art of the EP


GHOST DUBS started with a screening of KWAIDAN (1964, dir. Masaki Kobayashi) at the Austin Film Society theater. I hadn't been looking for an inspiration to get back into writing songs, but unexpectedly, I found one. 

Over the years, Larvae records have played like a line of Morse code. Short, Long, Short, Long, Short, Short, Long. This was intentional. The short records (we used to call them EPs but I think only the old guard and serious music nerds use that term anymore) gave me a chance to focus on a particular theme or style just long enough to to get it out of my system.

adn28 - MONSTER MUSIC - 2003

2003's MONSTER MUSIC contained three songs and a remix in homage to Godzilla movies. 2006's EMPIRE blasted out four songs and two remixes about Star Wars. LOSS LEADER, released by Ad Noiseam in 2008 was actually a pair of EPs delivered in a single package. The first four songs were an attempt at writing music centered around guitars, while the last four songs were a second reflection on Godzilla films called MONSTER MUSIC 2.

adn48 - EMPIRE - 2005

adn48 - EMPIRE - 2005

EPs are great. Albums can feel daunting and might even be stuffed with tracks that feel like they have been included to fill out the running time. But EPs let an artist or band explore and experiment. I've always found the practice of really focusing on something for three or four tracks to be creatively liberating. Larvae full length albums are often very personal affairs, written and recorded during intense periods where music-making feels more like therapy than art. Writing songs about giant monsters and Han Solo helps bring back a little of the fun.

GHOST DUBS is a reflection on, homage to, and remix of a selection of Japanese ghost movies from the 1950s and '60s. In many of these films, the focus is less on terror and scares and more on the physical and emotional toll of selfish choices. Sometimes the ghost provides a warning. Often, she seduces someone into a cycle of pain in a moment of weakness. These films are aching and slow and beautiful and I wanted to hear how playing with their tones would sound. That's the GHOST part.

The DUBS part came about as a very intentional choice to experiment with the trappings of dub that have inspired Larvae work for a long time. I wanted these songs to be short enough to fit on the side of a typical dub 45". I wanted them sparse and centered on basslines, and flirting with the tricked out effects mixes that dub is known for.

In the end, GHOST DUBS is still a Larvae record, so it's not going to sound like something hot off of the presses in Jamaica. But I hope that you enjoy it all the same, and if it inspires you to seek out some haunting Japanese movies, that's even better!

Ten of my Favorite EPs

Cocteau Twins - Love's Easy Tears (4AD)
Cocteau Twins - Otherness (Capitol)
Ganger - Canopy (Merge)
Low - Songs for a Dead Pilot (Kranky)
Scorn - White Irises Blind (Earache)
Clutch - Passive Restraints (Earache)
Godflesh - Merciless (Earache)
Jesu - Silver (Hydra Head)
Panasonic - Osasto (Blast First)
Boards of Canada - Hi Scores (Skam)