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The Brooklyn-based Ghost Exits regularly performed during the last year or two at loft parties, art events, and the defunct Manhattan club the Cooler. A three-piece consisting of drums, Farfisa organ, and bass guitar, Ghost Exits wreaked havoc on its audience’s ears with neo–No Wave angst and noise. The lineup proved to be unstable, and the band’s name wasn’t seen about town for some time. Now, the Ghosts Exits’ only surviving member, Christopher Exit, hooked up with two other musicians, the bassist Ivan Sunshine and synth player Sean Thegan, and launched a new group under the same moniker. They recorded She Is Beyond Good and Evil at Cannon Foundation Studios in December 2001. The EP contains three songs, but the music spans almost forty minutes.
The same scary-doom vibe of older Ghost Exits is here but in a different form. The loud rock element has mostly been replaced by bleeping low-fi synthesizers and tapes and a sputtering drum machine. Despite its programmed nature, the music on She Is Beyond Good and Evil comes across as visceral and reckless, which also is the effect live. As a recent show, Exit sang and played the guitar, an instrument that doesn’t appear in the CD—at least in a recognizable form.
For the first song and title track, Ghost Exits cover the late 1970s Australian band the Pop Group in an eight-minute jam of keyboards, beats, treated vocals, and Sunshine’s funky bass that recalls both the early home-recorded music of Devo and the anarchism of the legendary New York duo Suicide. The chanting of “Gonna get right on up” in the song’s final moments provide tongue-in-cheek comic relief to the song’s darker elements. The second composition—“Where Were You Last Night?”—is a frightening aural walk through a dark, writhing nightmare of jealousy and pain.
Rather than sink into isolation and despair, the group, strangely enough, keeps up with current events, as evidenced by the song “Cincinnati Riot Blues” (performed live but not on the CD). The last tune on She Is Beyond Good and Evil, “Get Off My Back Leroi Jones,” is a seventeen-minute epic of dizzying synthesizer tones and a relentless bass drum beat. All of this is underneath a recording of a speech by the African American writer of the song’s title about, among other things, the Harlem Renaissance, class and culture in US educational systems, and the civil-rights movement. Ghost Exits obviously seem concerned with political issues of the times, but it’s hard to tell which side the band is on.