Essential New Music: Masaki Batoh’s “Nowhere”

Don’t look back, Dylan once quoted. (Negro/Major League pitching great Satchel Paige actually initially said the words). Spoken like a young man. Masaki Batoh, former frontman of Ghost and the Silence, has been around a while, and he has no qualms about looking backward as well as forward. Singing in several languages, Batoh examines cycles of life and death, and of sin and redemption. He always comes back to the present instant, using his awareness of temporal and moral dimensions to generate a jolt in the moment of performance.

The strategy works. Freed from the obligation to give everyone in the band something to do on every song, Batoh builds the arrangements on Nowhere up from a quietly impassioned vocal and his ornate, finger-style guitar, adding additional instrumentation when necessary. This is post-acid acid folk, music that’s existentially aware and ready to make the most of a moment’s beauty. 

—Bill Meyer