The Phantom Band releases debut record January 27th, 2009 via Chemikal Underground!

The Phantom Band releases Checkmate Savage January 27th, 2009 on Glasgow label Chemikal Underground. Recorded in Glasgow at the label’s own Chem 19 and then in Franz Ferdinand’s Govan facility, this record features Paul Savage of The Delgados as producer, engineer, and guiding force. The recording sessions were like their early jams: long, meandering and experimental; the band beating out rhythms on broken wood blocks and organist Andy’s ‘shelvaphones’, a home-made instrument created from metal shelf brackets.

This early contender for album of the year is a place where Beefheart meets Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, where Neu! meets Nick Cave. “When you have been playing together for a good while you’d be amazed at the breadth of music you come up with. We ended up playing stuff that was folk, pop, techno with guitars, classic rock, metal, noise terrorism, gospel, soundscapes and parodied every band that we hated as well – it was great fun,” says bassist Gerry of their prolonged sessions.

The end result is truly special, bringing to mind the beat savvy of The Beta Band, the other-worldliness of Super Furry Animals and the mood of Hallowed Ground-era Violent Femmes.

If it sounds like they’re hard to pin down, that’s the idea. They called themselves The Phantom Band after a period of switching their identity with each successive gig, performing as Wooden Trees, Robert Redford and more. Early photos of the band pictured them with bags over their heads. It’s all part of their mystery and sense of the bizarre: some shows have seen them play with a giant, smoke breathing wolf head, others, with a Stairmaster onstage so audience members can work-out during their set.

In addition to The Phantom Band, the individual members each make music in other projects and guises, some better known than others. A few of them have an offshoot band called Omnivore Demon, a costumed improv group that play mostly at exhibitions and art events while Rick does solo folk stuff under the name of Rick Redbeard. Each Phantom brings a strong sense of identity to the project, counting artists, social workers, librarians and lawyers in their ranks. Never short of ideas and opinions, the entire band take a key interest in the album artwork, posters and onstage visuals that all add to this extraordinary band’s immersive world. Checkmate Savage is releasing January 27th, 2009 on Chemikal Underground.

Track Listing
01. The Howling
02. Burial Sounds
03. Folk Song Oblivion
04. Crocodile
05. Halfhound
06. Left Hand Wave
07. Island
08. Throwing Bones
09. The Whole Is On My Side

One thought on “The Phantom Band releases debut record January 27th, 2009 via Chemikal Underground!”

  1. I was passed a promo of the Checkmate Savage album by someone at work and now this is the blurb I feel is my human duty to bounce around the blog pages like a crazy man…

    It is the best album I’ve heard in absolutely ages, as I toe-tapped my way through its synthy-krautrock-with-a-twist-of-something-sweet anthems (with a little sniff of 70s rock), stopping only to be moved to tears by the stunningly beautiful folk hymn ‘Island’. This is a band who seem to have so much to offer and, if any criticism is due, then it can only be that perhaps they are holding back a little on this record (?) for the sake of making a concise and accessible album. Don’t take this too negatively- on the contrary, I love the record how it is- my feeling that this might only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what might have ended up on this lp only fills me with confidence that Checkmate Savage will serve as a neat stepping stone to greater magic with the next one as this promising band find their feet and settle into the public domain. In other words, I have a feeling that this is a band we’ll be hearing alot more of.

    “rocks and blood, blood turned an oily black beneath the hard northern starlight” were the words used in a great review I just read of Checkmate Savage. Although all the songs are fun and up-beat, varying a great deal in style (eclectic genre-hopping) there is a subtle darkness that pervades. Being from Scotland originally I get a strong sense of an ancient and mysterious beat thudding it’s way through the cold earth and onto the lp, or the faint shreek of a banshee echoing from the misty gloaming and through the epic tracks. The faint reverberation of countless untimely deaths, the distant murmur of a free church gathering, a creek and a scratch from the dark foundations of Roslyn chapel and a stain on Aleister Crowley’s pyjama bottoms… spooky phantoms, who the heck are you?!

    Ross

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