Founded and led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebuam, rising New York-based psych rock/psych soul outfit Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi, solo recording project back in 2014 with a unique sound featuring tape-saturated drums, spring reverb, surf rock guitar, Latin-styled percussion, odd time signatures and Spanish language female vocals. Since then, the project has become a full-fledged band featuring as many as 10 members — while still featuring a unique sound that draws from even more diverse sources including salsa, Afrobeat, classic soul, film soundtracks and more.
Ghost Funk Orchestra’s full-length debut, 2019’s A Song for Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, who played an immense role in his life. Although the album’s songs don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction specifically conveys what Anish’s presence felt like — and was — for Seth, a tough but kind, music obsessed, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and sound further than anything he had done to that point, including writing much more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.
Their sophomore album, 2020’s An Ode to Escapism saw the band further expanding upon the sound developed on A Song for Paul: The album’s material featured much more intricate arrangements, unusual time signatures, rapid tempo and time signature changes within songs, heavier drums and vocal harmonies that soar over the entire affair. Specifically written as an invitation to the listener to close their eyes and delve deep into their own subconscious while playing the album, if they weren’t too afraid to do so, the album thematically touched upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image.
Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s third album A New Kind of Love reportedly feels like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by Applebaum. Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as his experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to recreate it.
The 12 song album sees Applebaum exploring a complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs.
A New Kind of Love‘s first single “Scatter” is a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freak out of a solo. But pay close attention, y’all. The song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrously wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness that she deserves — and will get better.
Directed by Greg Hanson and shot on Kodak film, the accompanying video for “Scatter” stars singer/songwriter and musician Romi Hanoch in a gloriously cinematic fever dream that includes a debonair, fish man boyfriend, an underwater party, doppelgängers, and a saxophone playing creature that nods at nouveau vague and others.
Ghost Funk Orchestra are currently on the road and the tour includes a September 10, 2022 stop at TV Eye. More dates are coming soon, so be on the lookout.
9/1/22 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme w/ La Luz, The Harlequins
9/3/22 – Burlington, VT – Radio Bean w/ The Jack Moves
9/4/22 – Saranac Lake, NY – Northern Current w/ TEKE::TEKE, The Big Takeover, and more
9/10/22 – Ridgewood, NY – TV Eye w/ Rudy De Anda, The Shining Hours
[additional dates to be announced]