Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
On April 29th 2014, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (The GOASTT) will release Midnight Sun, a guided tour of bold, shape-shifting sonic murals and evocative lyrical panoramas. Plucking musical ingredients from all over the map, the album has a highly imaginative and distinct feel. It celebrates the unusual and the grandiose but fundamentally just rocks hard and feels good.
Like the hero in the album’s melancholy “Don’t Look Back Orpheus” who takes a journey into a dreamlike underworld, the listener embarks on an auditory voyage of soaring whimsical keyboards and crunching space-age guitars that blends original melodies with kaleidoscopic freakouts. Midnight Sun injects a surreal landscape with colorful, classic hooks.
With an infectious sense of adventure akin to Beck and Flaming Lips, and several years of touring and recording under their belt, the GOASTT takes their creative and savvy approach to psychedelia to new extremes. The ambitious songs flow cleverly together with unexpected ease to tell a vivid and provocative story.
Familiar yet compelling, visceral and vital, Midnight Sun is at once a response to the bizarre world we've inherited and helped to create, and a refreshing escapist daydream that, if not hopeful, is keenly insightful. The GOASTT has given us a record that is poised to be a postmodern-psychedelic classic.
The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger has been busy since their debut. The band toured with The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala, performed at the Hollywood Bowl with Jean-Claude Vannier and released a Record Store Day vinyl EP entitled La Carotte Bleue. Muhl released an EP with her teenage folk duo Kemp & Eden, who also performed in the film Greetings From Tim Buckley. Lennon, meanwhile, released a record by his experimental duo Mystical Weapons with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, a film score to the indie comedy Alter Egos and produced the new album by Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band.
The GOASTT is two people, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. It is, in itself, a chimera; a fabulous creature made with parts of two distinctly different creatures. It is also an acronym, as you might guess from its being capitalized like that. By virtue of being a friend to, and fan of, both the zygotes in this organism, I know what its letters stand for, but it's not mine to reveal. I expect they will do so at some future point.
Having driven my Ducati to Sean and Kemp's house through the darkened October streets of 4 am New York to type these words, I realize the absurdity of my task. If I wrote a novel and gave its protagonists stories of origin like the ones from which the two parts of GOASTT arose, people would say I was a fabulist in need of a hyperboectomy. Or an artless sophomore. But life is allowed a liberty with plotlines that novelists are not. Take these two:
Sean Lennon is a man of many hats. Like an alien who fell to earth and had to quickly assimilate humanity, he is a vast rolodex of accents, facts, farce, a myriad of motor skills (from archery to sketching) and can play any musical instrument (as if all undertakings are merely transposable keys to a song he knows by heart). Hyper-aware, there's almost nothing he isn't good at... This may be the result of his legendary genetic endowment, or simply the enormous pressure of his parentage; his father was perhaps the most accessible and experimental songwriter of his century. But, just as he reached the age of 5 when his father might have reared him with the milk and honey of nurture rather than the iron fist of nature, Sean's father was assassinated. As a consequence of this huge event and other shadows, Sean's life has been strangely both circumscribed and exaggerated. To the insouciant improvisational "Art is a Verb!" nature of his parents was added a welter of natural anxieties that would have made Woody Allen feel at home.
When I briefly encountered Sean's mother as an avant garde artist at Wesleyan University in January of 1966, I thought she had the most original mind I'd ever met. Later as she was dragged across the yawning screen of American hypercelebrity, I didn't know what to think, save that she, and all around her, seemed improbable.
And improbable was the first word that came to mind when I met Kemp Muhl almost exactly 40 years later.
Though her background was as unlikely as Sean's, hers was as private in its peculiarities as his was public. And her origins as the Georgian daughter of a military lieutenant colonel who had been nipped off to be a supermodel in New York, at about the tender age improbably beautiful girls are usually abducted - which is, chronologically at least, almost criminally young - did not in any way explain the fact that she has the other most original mind I had ever encountered.
After meeting Kemp, I followed her around- to the extent that I could move quickly enough- not, like most others, for the scenery, but because I found her casual triple-entendres, her "Kempisms," to be so improbably delicious in my mind...
She is such a free-running spring of cool creativity, that it didn't surprise me much when, shortly after she paired off with Sean and began to experience the musical ecosystem that is his unique mind, she revealed herself to have an utterly original sense of melody and lyrical realization as well. Her lines are like Borges short stories. I might have known.
As a symbol of her transformation for Sean, she now goes by Charlotte (her first name), much like a Native American who gets a new name upon having killed their first buffalo. Erstwhile Sean, (since his past chapters of turmoil and Shakespearean tragedy,) has shed the dark scales of his brooding artist skin for that of a newfound composer and puckish poet of an invincible fiber.
My great fortune lies in being an audience very close at hand to the gestation, birth, and early being of The GOASST. It is beautiful and strange and new. Let us watch it grow together.
-John Perry Barlow