A Mouthful of Gold
9 Track, LP (2008, Independent)
There’s no way to do this thing without first mentioning the vocals. More than the hooks, more than the squelchy analog synths or the booming drums or the jagged guitars, it’s the demented, almost Antony-esque croon of Ivan Vizintin that really stands out on A Mouthful of Gold. Truthfully, they’re a bit off-putting at first, largely because they’re so unexpected. Ghoul’s aesthetic – skinny Sydney indie kids – doesn’t at all suggest this level of uniqueness, so when the vocals kick in on ‘M-O-O-N’, they come as something of a shock.
But it’s a grower, this disc, and repeated listens serve to soften the blow that Vizintin’s idiosyncratic vocal cords initially deal. These nine tracks are oddly enchanting (and enchantingly odd), notable for their brevity (none breach the three-minute mark) and diversity. It’s hard to know where Ghoul are coming from a lot of the time, but they’ve somehow managed to forge a cohesive whole out of what one can only assume is a startlingly diverse array of influences.
For almost two minutes, ‘Serbia’ is finger-clicking cool jazz, before it’s subsumed by a brash metallic finale. The mulched electronic beats of ‘Corn Cob Dub/Jakob’ and ‘Fertile Girls’ are covered with layers of sparkling guitars and swirling FX. ‘Swimming Pool’, probably the EP’s strongest track, highlights Ghoul’s uncanny knack for catchy melodies, which are made all the more memorable by the peculiarities of the vocal. Following the instrumental title track, Ghoul round out A Mouthful of Gold with ‘The Loon’, a simple acoustic number that’s by far the most straightforward item here.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that there doesn’t appear to be any way to pay for A Mouthful of Gold. Ghoul have “done a Radiohead” if you will, making the EP available as a free download from their MySpace page as well as giving away physical copies at their gigs. What this move says about the current state of the music industry, and the DIY scene in particular, is a debate for another time and place. The point is that when something as good as this is available to you at absolutely no cost (save maybe a few minutes to download or a night out watching a great band play) there’s no excuse for not hearing it.
by Adam D Mills