Ghost Train Orchestra: Book of Rhapsodies Vol. II (Accurate Records, 2017)

November 10, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ghost Train Orchestra: Book of Rhapsodies Vol. II

Ghost Train Orchestra are an incredibly tight, vibrant ensemble who perform obscure compositions from the first half of the 20th century. This album leads off with a Raymond Scott tune, but it sheds more light on lesser-known composer Hal Herzon, in addition to others such as Alec Wilder and Reginald Forsythe. Basically, if you’re a fan of early Raymond Scott, you will thoroughly enjoy this. It’s fun and kind of cartoonish, with lots of unexpected twists and turns and mood changes. “Hare and the Hounds” is incredibly joyous and nutty, with rollicking drums and double bass as well as stunning violin work from Mazz Swift (also of Hear In Now), and also jaw harp! Several of the selections feature a narrator introducing them, giving this a feel of a concert or radio broadcast rather than just an album. Songs like “Deep Forest” and “Walking Home in Spring” are less perky, but still sophisticated and splendid. “Deserted Ballroom” is a spooky little hall of mirrors, with ghostly vocals and perhaps a musical saw, as well as a sort of sleazy guitar-driven section near the end. Most of the songs feature vocals by an adult choir, including a few Orchestra members, but there’s also a Langley Schools-inspired children’s choir on the tune “Kindergarten Flower Pageant”, as well as a solo vocal by Gita Drummond on the self-explanatory “A Little Girl Grows Up”. All of this is an absolute blast to listen to, and should not be missed by fans of strange, obscure delights from the distant past.

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