Simple Ghosts & Lazy Bones sounds just like its title. It’s a tiny bit haunted, but the ghosts are benign; and it took three years to complete, but it did get done. The album sets it own pace, like a colorful yarn spun by a good friend. This description may not be far from the truth, as certain parts were recorded in the participants’ flats. Friends would drop by to improvise, even in Holloway’s bathroom, which apparently has very good acoustics. A wide variety of instrumentation (melodica, ukulele, theremin, rain stick, shells) delivers an eclectic sound. Field recordings from the Penllergaer woods anchor the recording in place, lending it the feel of a shared diary.
What starts off sounding like a warm-up session with Do Make Say Think gradually develops into an intuitive collaboration. Calling birds fill the silences between the notes of “Halcyon”. Thomas’ subdued guitar carries the lead on “Licking Pennies Off a Wall”, but gurgling samples eventually claim the territory as their own. This leads to the album’s make-or-break track, the 14-minute “I am an Owl”. The opening notes sound more like a foghorn than a swivel-headed bird, but share the nocturnal creature’s aura of mystery. As the kalimba looks for a duet partner, the bass notes oblige, increasing in frequency. Something is building, but what? The rain stick operates as odd percussion until the real percussion scrapes to the surface; and when it does, the simple ghosts follow. At this point, the piece begins to suggest an acoustic version of The Caretaker, while the rain stick takes on the timbre of Hitchcockian birds. Thomas’ return on the closing track implies normalcy, but the theremin and sine wave generator say otherwise. This setting is for man and ghost alike, and there’s no reason for either of them to leave. (Richard Allen)