Band of the Day

2012.06.14

Ghost Society

A Danish group wandering through a dreamscape of edgy guitars and introspective vocals
Folded under your wings something strange protrudes and it backs into your skin, and nothing you can say makes it less unusual.
lyrics from Road

Danish-born musicians Sara Savery (formerly of People Press Play) and Tobias Wilner (of Blue Foundation) first teamed up for trip hop project Bichi Meets Savery in 2004. This pairing evolved into Ghost Society in 2008 with the inclusion of percussionist Lasse Herbst (Choir of Young Believers). Since Ghost Society’s 2010 release of a pristine debut album, The Back of His Hands, Then the Palms, the group has taken a moment to focus a bit more on solo work. Savery released a debut solo album, The Diver, last October. Wilner is preparing to release another Blue Foundation album (which will feature Savery’s vocals on some tracks). Meanwhile, all three musicians contributed individually and collectively as Ghost Society to the soundtrack for award-winning documentary film Tankograd, released last summer. The trio’s most recent work is a beautiful single “His Hands,” which appeared earlier this year in a pivotal love scene during the finale of award-winning TV series Chuck.

Ghost Society’s pedigree is a pulse-quickening combination of two Danish powerhouse musicians. The band formed in 2008, combining the vocal talent and bass guitar of beautiful Sara Savery (formerly of People Press Play) with vocals and lead guitar of artful producer Tobias Wilner (Blue Foundation). The two originally teamed up in 2004 as the outfit Bichi Meets Savery, a flirtation with trip hop. Now with percussionist Lasse Herbst (Choir of Young Believers) thrown into the mix and a guest appearance from Jonas Bjerre (Mew), the group is creating some serious indie pop magic. Amid jagged guitars, reverb, driving percussion, and deeply poetic lyrics, Ghost Society paints a delicate balance with retro synths and charming vocals.

The intro to Ghost Society’s maiden album, The Back of His Hands, Then the Palms, whirrs into the scene on Wilner’s increasingly loud agitated guitar and Savery’s echo-y, unnerving rhythmic chant. Just when you think the band is about to sacrifice someone on a giant speaker, the composition breaks into shiny album single, “Better Days.” Offering a complete 180 in terms of mood, this track would have been perfect in the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film by John Hughes, circa 1987. Wilner and Savery have combined innocent vocal delivery with retro synths, lighthearted guitar, and honest percussion in a way that evokes melting popsicles, riding bikes, and trying on new shoes. The reverberated guitar comes back into play on “Twisted Mind,” which features Mew’s Jonas Bjerre on lead vocals accompanied by Savery and an unfussy tambourine. As lush as “Better Days” is, “Twisted Mind” is compositionally simple, highlighting Bjerre’s gentle vocal timbre when he sings lines like “she can lie to me.” Texturally rich instrumental track “Dark Moon” is big from the very beginning, swirling together feedback, sighed melodic cooing, distilled piano keys, and heavy drums.

The group explores space ambiently in “Back of His Hands,” with drum circle percussion cutting through Wilner’s wild guitar. This track leads into “Rush Hour,” perhaps the sweetest song on the album (or ever?). It is the musical equivalent of fresh snowfall, and Savery and Wilner sing in tandem with such tenderness that you can almost feel them falling in love.