Susumu Hirasawa – The Ghost in Science

3 out of 5

Produced by: Akiro Arishima

Label: Polydor

While a much more seamless listening experience than the compilation-esque nature of the preceding Water in Time and Space, Susumu Hirasawa’s sophomore album under his own name has its own internal identity issues, not quite able to reconcile the whimsicality of its best tracks with some longer 6+ minute entries.  The way this ends up being stitched together makes for a long run in the album’s middle that doesn’t have enough distinction, and also concludes on the disc’s most sleight track, FGG.  But around and between that there’s a fantastic amount of noise and mirth, which, according to wiki, is themed around Hirasawa presenting himself as a mad scientist.  Lyrically, I can’t speak to that, but the mash of circus sounds and appropriated, uh, country and Western twang on the bluster of Cowboy and Indian – plus a tried and true maniacal laugh punctuating the end of QUIT – sell me on, if anything, Hirasawa being a mad musical scientist.

Opener World Turbine is a fast-paced blend of everything under the sun, kicking the disc off with something buoyant and tonally positive, with followup Rocket an insane display of vocal prowess from both Susumu and Jun Togawa (always lending her wondrous efforts to Cowboy and Indian).  “Fish Song” is where the album begins to show its missteps: running six minutes, it tends to loop around its chorus and riffs for a few minutes too long, and is compositionally simple compared to the tracks that surround it.  QUIT, the other long track, corrects this by asserting a more somber tone but maintaining Susumu’s distinct depth and musicality; unfortunately, it still goes on for too long without changing its style, leaving us on the stuttery doorstep of Amor Buffer, which, though less than a couple minutes, is too disruptive to add anything to the album.  Dreaming Machine and Techno Girl are a middleground between all of these experiences: quality riffs, interesting and catchy compositions; without the drag in the album’s middle, these would be more memorable tracks.

The Ghost In Science, it should be said, flies by, despite my criticisms.  And Susumu’s personality shines throughout.  That it has some scattered awesome tracks absolutely makes it a worthwhile addition to one’s Hirasawa library, with its “lesser” tracks only really lesser in comparison to the above-average nature of Mr. Hirasawa’s work.