For all I know, the Tupolev Ghost might be horrified to find themselves featured in a shoegaze-related blog. After all, their influence list includes such muscular noise propagators as Lightning Bolt, Slayer and Shellac. Though now that the band has broken up and become a genuine ghost, it might not matter so much anymore.
Formed in Cambridge, UK, in 2005, the Tupolev Ghost were a revolving group of friends led by James Parrish on guitar and vocals, and variously including Steven Duggins on drums and bass, Ben Perry on bass and guitar, Ross Smithwick on bass, Andy Jenkin on drums and Chris Bradshaw on guitar. They released a couple of demos, an EP, a split 10’’ and two mini LPs and did one tour. Dogged by being broke and by each of the band members living in a different town, they finally broke up in 2009, just as things were starting to happen for them.
Their early material touches on scary territories like prog-metal and unreconstructed emo, but thankfully never quite crosses the line. And in fact right from the start, power chords tend to dissolve into open spaces, and there are enough frayed lows, sparkling overtones, diagonal harmonies and nebulae of sound to make any shoegaze/post-rock fan happy.
I was listening to TTG and taking notes for this post on my way to a Friday demonstration in East Jerusalem against the Israeli Occupation , which felt somehow fitting, as TTG’s music burns with the passion of outrage and protest, like that of Unwound and Fugazi and At the Drive-In before them. It also shares with those bands that powerful locking together of guitars, bass and drums in intricate patterns that go somewhere fast. But TTG go even further with some tendencies that were already present in the bands that influenced them, punctuating their extrovert vituperations with regular implosions of poetry, sensitivity and heartfelt beauty.
You can kind of see them developing and steadily honing their mettle, from the first rehearsal room 4-track recordings to their wonderful, explosive last mini-album, 2009’s “Tupolev Ghost”. This is exemplified by the song “The Night”, which on 2006’s “Take Courage” still sounds like a promising demo, and on “Tupolev Ghost” becomes a piercing statement of intent. By that time, TTG’s early ideas had coalesced into compact capsules of conviction and heart-melting, uplifting emotional smart bombs.
You can download all their discography for free from their facebook page: https://en-gb.facebook.com/thetupolevghost