Present Ghost

Telling stories



“Air Condition” animates the ordinary

By now, everyone who reads my blog knows I’m related to the lead singer of The Sleaves. He’s my brother, so I can’t be an unbiased reviewer, but here’s what I can offer that no one else can: We’ve talked for years about art, be it visual, written, or musical. We’ve shared influences and affected each other’s work in collaboration and conversation. I know what makes Andrew Ditlevson tick. At least, I have a pretty good idea.

Andrew is interested in shadows, the interplay of light and dark. That’s a typical artist thing, but I find my brother’s work to hang out in this really tense, undecided space. It’s uncomfortable but not discomforting, because it’s so human.

The phases of human life have interested Andrew for awhile now. He’s been working on a series of EPs covering marriage, and most recently, childhood.

“Air Condition” is track off the Marriage EP. The Marriage EP explores the pain, joy, and ordinariness of a marital relationship. Some aspects of his work is autobiographical, but “Air Condition” is fiction. In it, he tells the story of a person mourning the death of his or her spouse.

Andrew will call the song “dark,” but I’d use a different word.

When I hear him sing this line:

“Now that you are really gone, I don’t change the sheets/It has been about a year since you were with me.”

I know what he’s talking about. It’s that almost palpable absence you can feel, whether or not your partner is dead.

That’s heavy.

Find more sleaves music on their SoundCloud page.


Our music was both elegy and anthem



“I want to know what this means,” he said.

We sat in the driveway with the car in park, and he turned up the radio.

“Who is this?”

“It’s R.E.M.”

My dad told me he liked the band and that he’d heard the song so many times before and liked the music. Now he wanted to know more about the words.

In the passenger seat, I squirmed. Even though I could have shared the answer I’d read in online articles and music magazines, I told him I didn’t know.

Before turning off the ignition and going into the house, he told me he’d started listening to music a little closer.

I’d noticed. Within the past couple of years, he had obsessed over music he experienced for the first time. Anyone in his path could be held for at least 20 minutes listening to Pink Floyd on laser disk or whatever Christian goth metal copycat was on the radio at the time. If he turned up the volume just loud enough, he might be able to surround you with his feelings so that you might understand and share the experience. On a trip to Nashville, Dad beat the steering wheel and dashboard so emphatically to a song that he scared my boyfriend, who was used to playing and listening to music very loudly.

Dad was either 61 or 62 when he started asking questions that may have come 15 years too late.

Continue reading “Our music was both elegy and anthem”

Music from the Fifth Dimension

Dominic Francisco makes music as Space Monkey Death Sequence. The name came to him one night when he couldn’t sleep.

“It’s dark, a bit abstract, and a little stupid — exactly how I’ve been approaching music for this project.”

He describes his recent release People Are Alike All Over as a 1960s sci-fi adventure, but elements of his sound collage come off more like possible backdrop music for a near-present film rendering of cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.

The album, at times, sounds like muffled dirty metal parts scraping in a belching echo chamber. That sounds bad, but it’s all part of an attempt to capture what it might be like to take a journey to Mars via “The Twilight Zone.” Continue reading “Music from the Fifth Dimension”

Soundscaping already


If you’re looking for lyrics, they’re not here, but there’s music in the sounds, and you probably wouldn’t guess how it got there. PG takes some time to interview Daniel Ditlevson and Ariana Robin, who collaborated on Already Always.

Both of you have favorites on this album. Can you explain to me why each stands out to you?

Ari: I think everything meshes together really well in “Space Cafe,” and it really transports me to, well, a cafe in space, like out of Star Wars or something. I close my eyes during the piece, and that’s just where I am, and I’m imagining all different kinds of aliens and weird space drinks, and it’s awesome! Few songs really transport me like that…a lot of it has to due with the melody of the saxophone, which is really compelling and alluring.

Daniel: I really love “Galactic Birds,” because the way it was created was super simple, but appears so otherworldly and beautiful. Plus, Ari made some great tape chirping/whirling sounds on this! Continue reading “Soundscaping already”

Noise Annoys: Q&A with Experimental Noise Artist Daniel Ditlevson

Almost 10 years ago, I got lost in the Nashville suburbs driving with my boyfriend. We were listening to Psychocandy. I sat in the passenger seat, commenting about the album casually, not really caring that I had no idea where we were. My boyfriend declared that he couldn’t handle the “noise” and needed to turn it off. The feedback disrupted his ability to navigate. If we weren’t going to break up again (at least at that moment), I needed to mind the road.

After I relented and turned off the stereo, he asked, “How can Dan sleep through this?”

I don’t think either of us knew the answer to that question, but this Q&A might clear up a few things. Dan likes noise, and he makes it very well. It’s beautiful, scary, and sometimes even a bit funny. Let’s get to know him.

Continue reading “Noise Annoys: Q&A with Experimental Noise Artist Daniel Ditlevson”

Celebrate with an Artist of the Beautiful

People write about love in its beginning and ending stages. There’s passion, lust, flirtation, heartache, and longing. Yet there is an incredible dearth of songs written for people who actually work through relationships long enough to truly celebrate.

Continue reading “Celebrate with an Artist of the Beautiful”

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