The CD sleeve the disc is Ghost to Falco's latest, Like This Forever, but put in the disc and you'll swear you're hearing the lost outtakes to the Violent Femmes' eponymous 1983 album, filtered through industrial-strength muscle relaxants. And that's not a bad thing.
Swooping bass lines, feedback at odd intervals, slo-mo percussive riffs when the drums are playing, and the rare touch of horns--put like that, you might think it sounds like a bunch of gibbons loose in the studio, but Portland-based troubadour Eric Crespo manages to blend it all into a batch of sludge folk that alternately soothes and rattles the ears. The tempo rarely speeds up past languid, with only "The Force" and "Maupin" approaching any kind of beat, yet the overall effect is of something seething below the surface. It's off-kilter and at times maddening, but it works.
That's not to say everything on this disc is a gem. The intro track, "Light in Wind," is basically a way to cover up someone leaving the mike on in the studio, and the closer track, "White (K)night," throws in enough horns to make it different than the other 10 tracks, but not distinctive enough to merit the effort. Also, you have to be in the right frame of mind for this kind of music. If you instinctively sneer at the mention of the Violent Femmes--and I mention them only because it's eerie how closely Crespo mimics Gordon Gano's singular voice and delivery--then this probably won't make your day. Likewise, if you only listen to music that pumps the adrenaline, this will make a fine sleep aid. However, if you like moodily sedate sonic swirls of panache and alienation, Like This Forever is the album you want.