Six years ago, German experimental rock outfit Notwist and Bay area hip-hop group Themselves paired, formed 13 And God and released a self-titled album. The album was received positively, but there was much speculation of the legitimacy of the group being an actual band and not just a one-off musical and cultural experiment. Returning now with Own Your Ghost, the group proves that it is not just a gimmicky mash-up of two preexisting projects.
Like any collaboration, Own Your Ghost is at its best when the group members play off of each other’s strengths. On the glitchy, driving “Janu Are,” the soulful “Death Major” and the somber, ambient “Unyoung,” the group comes together to sound completely different from what its halves sound like separately. The two are not just satisfied with creating a band medley of sorts, an outcome of so many rap and rock collaborations in the past. The track “Armored Scarves” is a truly epic ballad, and if every song on the album were as interesting and inspired, this would easily be one of the best albums released so far this year.
The album lags a bit on a few songs where it sounds like one half of the group had the majority of the say during the writing process. These instances are few and far between though, leaving the rest of the album as an intriguing concoction of two bands coming from polar opposite sides of the musical spectrum and meeting in the middle to make something new.