DAMON AND NAOMI with WAYNE OMAHA at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (March 24). $10. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
Listening to the hushed, shuddering harmonium-sweetened folk/pop of the new collaborative disc by former Galaxie 500 rhythm section Damon and Naomi and Japanese collective Ghost, it's hard to fathom how guitarist and drummer Damon Krukowski could sum up the recording, and especially the mixing process, as painful. Supple, spare, fluid -- organic -- these are the words that spring to mind listening to Damon & Naomi With Ghost (Sub Pop/Sonic Unyon).
But painful? That's how you expect the duo to describe playing noisy rock clubs or transcending the nasty connotations associated with the "folk" tag. When Krukowski and partner bassist/singer Naomi Yang think folk, they think Fairport Convention, not some schmuck strumming protest songs under a naked lightbulb. But the image remains.
"We've tried playing alternative venues," Yang says from home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "but we find it's hard to get the people who listen to our music to come out to a place they don't usually go."
"But sometimes it works in bars," Krukowski says. "We've had people sitting down on some pretty disgusting-looking floors, which is a compliment in its own right."
After touring together in Japan, the two groups decided to collaborate, albeit piecemeal and separated by half the world. "We showed them our songs before they were completely done, which is something we've never done before," Krukowski says.
Ghost eventually came to Cambridge to record in a brief burst, but the mixing was left to Krukowski and Yang, who admit that the fear of misrepresenting a band they loved drove them batty.
"I was actually grinding my teeth so hard I cracked a tooth," Krukowski laughs. "Just the sheer tension of it all. Music is both a totally pleasurable and totally torturous aspect of our lives."
"It was the awesome responsibility of representing Ghost," Yang adds, "and not wanting them to be totally humiliated by the outcome."