Something that may strike you upon hearing Own Your Ghost is how simultaneously pretty and endearingly strange it is. How can something ping-pong effortlessly between guitar-based folktronica and underground Cali hip-hop? On paper, it seems like a sensitive Linkin Park side-project gone awry, but that is simply not the case. 13 & God is the transpacific collaboration between members of German indie outfit The Notwist and Oakland-based hip-hop duo Themselves. It’s been a minute since this unlikely collabo’s last full-length, released in 2005. A lot of things have happened in the last seven years, but 13 & God losing their creative compatibility was certainly not one of them.
It’s difficult to say what makes these collaborators click, but the answer likely lies in their willingness to think big and work small. Saroos, another supergroup featuring members of the Notwist, created See Me Not last year, an album that is very much a kindred spirit to Own Your Ghost in terms of new, intricate electronic textures that swirl and flitter and probably look incredible underneath a microscope—or at least sound great through a pair of expensive headphones.
On the other hand, here we find 13 & God dealing with massive questions about life, death, and the other side. This topic extracts gobs of terrific lines from rapper Doseone, who, at times, comes off as a raspier, less whimsical Busdriver. But his obsession with existence gives the album a dark urgency that it might not otherwise have. “You can’t take the ‘eat’ out of ‘death’,” he warns us from the get-go on the track “Death Major”. It is, indeed, a major admonishment that ups the creep factor for this otherwise delicate album. The opus (bookended by matching titles, making it reminiscent of an orchestral suite) tends to get bogged down by the drowsy contemplation, perhaps the album’s only downfall. It is a wearisome listen, but perhaps Own Your Ghost is precisely is the sort of LP that requires your undivided attention.[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/13-God-Old-Age.mp3|titles=13 & God – Old Age]