The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, “Moth To A Flame” (2014): One Track Mind

An enormous leap forward in both focus and experimental verve, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger has released a prismatic explosion of psychedelia, woozy but also cut through with vocal sun shards, called “Moth to a Flame.”

It sounds like the very embodiment of what Syd Barrett might have stumbled upon, had he not been lost in a drug-fueled maze of his own making. At the same time, there’s a flinty post-modernism to the proceedings — in particular, with its accompanying long-form video.

As Sean Lennon squeezes every last ounce of whirling confusion out of a pedal steel (he’s run it through a wah wah), this on-going collaboration with Charlotte Kemp Muhl — they record as the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger — finds the centerpoint of a sound that clearly arrived in progress on 2010’s Acoustic Sessions.

Back then, the GOASTT was working with a more introspective palette (as the title no doubt conveys), something that inbued their music with Barrett’s deep-space vagaries, but also touches of Simon and Garfunkel-style reminesence and of French chanteuse-isms. As entrancing as it no doubt could be, all of that feels like a rough draft after hearing “Moth to Flame,” this towering, utterly engrossing song that rushes out as a completed thought.

Together, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger have created a world unto themselves, all while heralding a brand-new effort called Midnight Sun, due April 29, 2014 from Lennon’s Chimera Music.

As for the video, it plays like a combination of his mother’s life story (Yoko Ono was child during the World War II-era firebombing of Japan) and his father John Lennon’s Magical Mystery Tour-era whimsy: The feather in Sean’s cap survives, all the better to flirt with the ladies after finding a lacey bra-festooned sign beckoning him forward.

But, even as the younger Lennon so skillfully delineates how both muse and music draw from his life’s two principal forces, he’s exploring new places with Muhl — places that go far beyond his fate at the hands of a strange cadre of post-apocalyptic she-women he’s come upon in the Daniel Kruglikov clip at top.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso