Ghost Community: The Unceasing Brilliance of Matt Cohen

A review of Ghost Community, CYCLE OF LIFE (2016).

Tracks: Rise Up; Mirror Lakes; Anything and Everything; Blue December Morning; Ghost Community; and Cycle of Life

Ghost Community: Jake Bradford Sharp (drums); Matty Cohen (bass); Moray Macdonald (keyboards); Simon Rogers (guitars); and John Paul Vaughn (vocals).

ghost community
Ghost Community

Imagine if Styx hadn’t gone down the AOR and pop road in the second half of the 1970s, but instead had remained deeply embedded in the prog tradition of the early part of that decade.

Imagine, for just a glorious moment, that we remembered Styx not for KILROY WAS HERE, but rather for CRYSTAL BALL and EQUINOX?  Then, throw in some British rockers to replace the ones from Chicago.  Then, add the perfectionist and never-wavering mighty bassist and Welshman, the brilliant and steadfast Matt Cohen.

What you might find yourself with is a little piece of perfection in a rather dreadfully fallen world.

And, thus, you’d hold in your hand, Ghost Community’s CYCLE OF LIFE.

From the opening note to the closing one, Ghost Community is nothing if not utterly earnest.  I’m not sure if everyone in the prog community would classify this as strictly prog—but, then, really, what is?  The more unclassifiable the better—at least to me, when it comes to art as well as to individual human lives.

I must admit a bit of bias here.  I have rather proudly enjoyed the friendship of Matt Cohen (though, strictly through the internet) for many years, and I find him to be one of the most compelling artists of our day.  He loves to rock, he loves to get things exactly right, and he possesses the will power of ten great men.   No matter what life throws at him, Cohen NEVER sits down and he never wallows.  He thinks, and he acts.  And, the world is so much better for it.

He’s also one incredible bass player.

As I listen to this album, I can’t help but feel immense satisfaction.  It’s full of intensity and enjoyment.  There are great lyrics, great playing, great flow, great engineering, and great production.  There’s nothing more to desire.  At one level—hence, the comparison to early Styx—the album is rather obvious and straightforward.  Upon several listens, however, especially when paying attention to the lyrics, several more layers emerge—all quite subtle and nuanced.  My guess is that even a decade of listening will still reveal more nuances.

This is an intelligent release, an excellent contribution to the current wave of prog rock.  Maybe more rock than prog, it’s a delight.

“Light up, everybody.”

One thought on “Ghost Community: The Unceasing Brilliance of Matt Cohen

  1. Bryan Morey

    Prog communist? Is that someone who thinks Pink Floyd’s Animals is a platform for how society should be run rather than a commentary on the ills of society? :p

    Great review, Brad. I’ll have to check this out. I would say that Styx was at their proggy best on Grand Illusion – they perfectly balanced the progressive elements with just enough pop hooks to make it accessible. Pieces of Eight is another high tier album in that regard. Equinox and Crystal Ball are good, but for me they represent a band still trying to find their sound. By Grand Illusion, they found it. By Kilroy, they had lost it.



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