D.M. Stith

Heavy Ghost Appendices

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AllMusic Review by

DM Stith's Heavy Ghost was released in March of 2009. It was greeted with acclaim and surprise for its heavily layered, multi-textured, intricate production patchwork. Its artfully crafted songs were full of often elaborate arrangements, encompassing panoramic and dramatic harmonic and lyric influences that were equal in vision and execution. In the aftermath, Stith issued three EPs that summer. These recordings included revisionings and (often drastic) reworkings of album tracks, some covers, and remixes by other artists. Heavy Ghost Appendices collects those EPs in one double-disc package. The reading of Randy Newman's "Suzanne" features a less ironic, more intimate interpretation of the lyric and melody, but the seemingly endless and staggered backing choruses create a nearly symphonic feel despite the fact that the only noticeable instruments are an acoustic guitar and a bassline. The stripped reading of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" carries within it the awkward voice and profound ache of an adolescent singing it into a mirror to an unattainable love; the reverb adds to the nostalgia; and the sound of female backing vocals enters the frame near the end, placing the listener back to the Ronettes as if the radio has just been switched on.

The alternate reworkings, such as the "slow dance version" of "Around the Lion's Legs," are simply heartbreaking in their beauty. "I Heart Wig" (featuring I Heart Lung) is pure strangeness as church organs, shimmering cymbals, strings, synths, and acoustic instruments which turns paranoia and fear into a blissed-out spaciousness over the course of seven minutes. The remixes on disc two are mostly remarkable. Standouts include Clark's futuristic bossa redo of "Braid of Voices" and the contrasting takes of "BMB" by Roberto C. Lange and Son Lux with Carlosaurus. The closer, "Pity Dance" by Actuel, is pure yet compelling weirdness. In the way Heavy Ghost Appendices is arranged and sequenced, it comes off as -- almost --an entirely new reading of the preceding album; it further unmasks Stith's diversity as a composer/songwriter and his visionary production styles.

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