By ELI JACE >
You want suspension of self and that little room you’re in?
Here’s something: Ghost Box by SUSS, a New York City quintet inducingly self-labeled, “ambient country.” The newly expanded edition comes from Northern Spy Records.
SUSS originally self-released Ghost Box in February 2018, but after lighting up Spotify, Northern Spy saw an opportunity for something great and re-released the album later that year as Ghost Box (Expanded) with four additional tracks. Lucky us, that’s over twenty minutes more of the golden range.
Ghost Box (Expanded) might be the music equivalent of waking up mid-peyote on a desert morning with canyons widening outward past the horizon.
“Wichita” starts the hypnosis. Scrapes on guitar strings surround for a looping lull. The sun continues its ascent. It’s the sound of heat, of watery illusions in the distance, and a confusion of place and time.
The fivepiece of SUSS are all career working musicians. When you read their collection of instruments you get an idea of the possible soundscape. Bob Holmes plays mandolin, guitar, harmonica, bass; Gary Leib on keyboards; Jonathan Gregg plays pedal steel and dobro; William Garrett plays guitar, baritone guitar, loops and mixes; and Pat Irwin adds more guitar and keyboard.
As Ghost Box continues, “Late Night Call” corrodes the speakers with feedback and a shaky twang.
Somewhere is a whistle like a call to return home. “Big Sky” is the first to follow somewhat of a song structure as levied acoustic chords move along with an electric guitar and keyboards poking in and out. “Rain” is four minutes of pure meditation.
SUSS have created such an atmosphere with this album. Close your eyes and let the desert appear in the room. The drum machine in “Laredo” enters like a lizard splashing through sand. The mood of the album changes halfway through with “Gunfighter,” its gnarly drumbeat throbbing in the dust. Voices of concern crackle here and there as guitars slice across. “Laramie” is all drone like the Wyoming night sky falling right on top of you.
Ghost Box (Expanded) is a collection of melting fragments from old western scores, desert reflections, beat-up acoustic guitars dragged across rocks.
SUSS has found a new genre on the spectrum pulling together the vibrating hum of a lonely guitar with the ambiance of the universe surrounding it. Ghost Box (Expanded) and its original form are available to stream on Spotify; expanded version is available digitally or as CD through Northern Spy Records.