Draag’s “Ghost Leak” is a Soothing and Illuminating Peek Into the Wonders All Around Us Hiding in Plain Sight

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Draag, photo courtesy the artists

On overpasses, in Asian markets, amid shops of various kinds, on balconies, in darkened streets and fields, on a bridge in broad daylight and standing unobtrusively staring, a figure with a mask covering the lower part of her face is the central figure of Draag’s video for “Ghost Leak.” The figure seems invisible to other people except us who see it from the vantage of not being in the video. Like we’re getting that ghost leak that is the title and granted special powers of observation that we all possess but have come to ignore and neglect. And yet this figure doesn’t instill a sense of fear. Rather it’s more like the ghost experience many report of figures who appear unexpectedly without menace. Perhaps here it represents those things in the world many of us miss if we don’t pay attention or are turned in to our surroundings with the proper cognition as the mind often renders insensible or terrifying that which it has no framework or expectation.

Musically the song is like layers of cassette recordings put together so that vocals wander about spectrally as ethereal guitars glide along at a metronomic pace, sweeping between chords and notes, organic percussion provides texture and a shuffling and hypnotic pacing. Synths swirl into the mix and bass figures help to give the track occasional and loose definition. All the sounds convey a sense of depth and mystery that is soothing and inviting. Like if My Bloody Valentine wrote an IDM song using a similar palette of sounds. Its amorphous structure suits it as it winds its way into your consciousness as a reminder of everyday unexpected phenomena that, when noticed and observed can turn a mundane environment into something fascinating and inspiring once we’re able to perceive beyond our conditioned responses and interpretations. The song will be part of the band’s Clara Luz EP produced by Jon Nuñez of Torche due out in February when the group will have a residency at The Echo in Los Angeles. Watch the video for “Ghost Leak” on YouTube and follow Draag at the links below.

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Torche Writes “A Lot of Riffs Inspired By Synths,” Performs at Larimer Lounge on September 18

Torche Band
Torche, photo by Dan Almasy

Torche (performing tonight, September 18, at Larimer Lounge) started in Miami in 2004 after the dissolution of Floor, the band guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks and former guitarist Juan Montoya had played in through much of the 90s and early 2000s. Torche picked up some of where Floor left off but took the heaviness in a more melodic and experimental direction across several albums including 2019’s Admission (N.B., Floor has reunited since its 2004 split and is technically still active). The new record reflects the band’s eclectic influences and roots as a band. New bassist Eric Hernandez or heave noise rock weirdos Wrong has played with Torche on and off filling in for drummer Rick Smith when the latter was not able to tour including, according to Brooks, a 2006 European tour. So the new role simply meant Hernandez was still playing with his friends in a new capacity. “After we lost two guitar players Jon [Nuñez] started playing guitar and he said we should get Eric to play bass,” comments Brooks.

Torche has never really fit the mold of a heavy metal band and Admission sounds more like a heavier neo-shoegaze album or noise rock record than heavy metal even though there are plenty of moments when the band plumbs those sonic depths that are part of its overall aesthetic. Part of this is accounted for by the fact that Brooks and the other members of Torche came up in Miami. Earlier in life, according to Brooks, he saw Melvins in 1991 and Godflesh on its early tours in 1989 or 1990. “I thought this was the type of stuff I wanted to do,” says Brooks. But finding like-minded musicians was a challenge and the guitarist moved to Atlanta in 1995 for a few years because the drummer of Floor lived there. Then the band got another drummer who lived in central Florida posing another challenge in the commute and Brooks “would drive three to four hours to practice on weekends.”

Locally Floor would play a club called Churchill’s often and frequently drove to Gainesville, Florida to play where a sizable audience might be found but back home it was playing to friends. So Floor and then Torche built up an audience well beyond their respective home towns out of necessity and have since cultivated a national and international fan base on a fairly grassroots basis.

Perhaps reflective of Torche’s non-genre purist sound is its current tour with experimental synth and heave drone band Pinkish Black for the bulk of the journey and ethereal yet emotionally charged darkwave project SRSQ (Kenndy Ashlyn formerly of Them Are Us Too) for the first leg of the tour. Torche’s current sound seems more introspective than one would expect from its previous offerings and when bringing Hernandez up to speed for the kinds of things to have in mind for moods and tones, Torche recommended listening to the first three Gary Numan albums for inspiration.

“We write a lot of riffs inspired by synths,” says Brooks. “Gary Numan is a big influence on us. So we threw that out. It’s the same thing except we’re playing guitars. The vibe.”

Admission has the evocative Richard Vargas cover art with a simple design favored by Torche this time out rather than anything too intricate. The image is of a head with the lower face intact but the upper head having exploded into the aftermath of a volcanic eruption suggesting either blowing minds of having one’s mind blown.

Although Torche has been around for fifteen years and toured internationally and it supports the members of the band, the group still operates like an underground outfit but one with the cachet to have albums released on the likes of Relapse with its two most recent records. But as with a lot of bands who are still playing small clubs and theaters Torche does its own driving and selling its own merch most of the time. Although its name is known among connoisseurs of heavy music the band isn’t so far removed from the challenges of its early days.

“It was really challenging when we first started because we weren’t making any money,” says Brooks. “Now we’re able to survive. The challenging part is actually all the traveling, trying to get sleep. Last night we partied and then I ended up going home and woke up at six o’clock in the morning and my band was in my room and I was like, ‘What the fuck are you all doing here?”’They were staying with friends before but they were in my house. They had broken into my house because I wasn’t waking up. I woke up naked because I took an Uber home, took a shower and went straight into bed. I woke up thought ‘Fuck, there are people in my room!’ The challenge is having privacy.”

Torche performs on September 18, 2019, at Larimer Lounge with Pinkish Black and Green Druid. Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m., tickets $23, ages 16 and over welcome