With an expansive membership and epic sound, the Ghost Is Dancing is asking for trouble–or at least comparisons with Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire. So why tempt fate?
Singer-guitarist Jamie Matechuk, calling from his Toronto home, says the band's lineup and pop sensibility just evolved naturally. He and three pals had moved to Hogtown from their hometown of Niagara Falls and, while living together, found themselves storing some musical equipment for friends. "So we had a few amps lying around," says Matechuk. "And I had been learning guitar, and Jim [Deluca, singer-guitarist] played. We used to joke around and say we should try to manage Jim and make him into a John Mayer type of guy."
What began as a lark led to the forming of an actual group. Inspired by the exuberance and inclusiveness of live sets by Mississauga's the Hidden Cameras, the core of the Ghost Is Dancing–Matechuk, Deluca, drummer Kevin Corlis, and keyboardist Odie Ouderkirk–began taking on more members. Now the outfit plays with up to 10 people.
The extended family on The Darkest Spark, the Ghost Is Dancing's just-released full-length debut, doesn't stop the disc from easing up on full-blown arrangements for moments of stark, quiet beauty. These include the wistful opener "September '01" and the moody mid-section of "The Dark and the Bright".
For the album, which follows an acclaimed self-titled 2006 EP, the group worked with one of the most warped producers in Canadian rock, Dale Morningstar, of Toronto avant-garde oddballs the dinner is ruined. Ferrying back and forth between Toronto and Morningstar's Gas Station studio on Toronto Island, the members of the Ghost Is Dancing had plenty of time to reflect on their current circumstances–thoughts that made it into the lyrics on The Darkest Spark.
"There was a serendipity to recording on the closest shore to the shore of Niagara," says Matechuk. "You can see the CN Tower in this murky blue distance when you leave Niagara. It brought us back to what we were writing about in a lot of these songs–new beginnings in a lot of ways, and endings to a certain type of life you might have been leading."
The Ghost Is Dancing plays the Lamplighter on Monday (July 16).