On the dawn of one J’ouvert Morning in Trinidad, the juxtaposition of the lively parade of partiers along the line of quiet graveyards provoked KOBO Town’s Drew Gonsalves deep into thought – the influence behind the band’s new single, “Carnival Of The Ghosts.” Check it out on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po0T287GbOI
The title track of the JUNO Award-winning group’s fourth album takes its listeners on a journey with Gonsalves through time, experiencing a night with the dead who paved the way for the generations that followed.
Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/track/2sYFug6PzgeyA3Sf25pjFj?si=cfa707e7a73c4427&nd=1
“The idea for the song came to me a few years ago while I was back in Trinidad for Carnival,” Gonsalves said. “I was struck by this contrast between the worn, silent grey tombstones and the noisy explosion of life and festivity passing by them. And the thought that many of the graveyard’s residents once paraded down that same street gave me an overwhelming feeling of continuity with those who walked the road before us.”
The tale begins with Gonsalves passing out at Carnival and awaking with no one else around. But he soon discovers that he isn’t alone – the spirits of the dead had come out to play.
From Shaka Zulu to King Henry VIII and many more, KOBO Town references a plethora of humanity’s most-notable characters in its spiritual shindig.
“In that moment I felt my kinship with those now gone and thought I could glimpse my small place in that march of time which began long before I arrived, and which will continue long after I am gone,” Gonsalves explained. “So, I had the idea of a Carnival band made up of spirits of famous dead people – I imagined how they would interact and what they might say to us and to one another.”
Laid over Gonsalves’s story is an entrancing tune that takes you right into the picture the singer is painting. If there were ever to be a Carnival celebrated only by the ghosts of partygoers past, there is no question that this sound would be its anthem.
“Carnival Of The Ghosts” is the second tune on the album and is one piece of a greater puzzle that KOBO Town builds throughout the project. Gonsalves drew inspiration from a public performer on a Paris subway train for the album’s motif.
“A few years ago, I was riding the metro in Paris to a recording session when at one stop an old fiddler stepped into the subway car and revealed its passengers with a medley of rousing tunes,” the musician recalled. “He played his jigs and reels with great technical dexterity and a tasteful dramatic flair, dancing and tapping his feet all the while.
“For all his effort and ability, no one even looked up,” Gonsalves continued. “In fact, so completely was he ignored, that he seemed to me like a ghost out of the past.”
Was this a sign of a joyless modernity, unable to parse beauty through the monotony, or perhaps the commuters were too familiar with the show unfolding in front of them to care? Regardless, the performer’s glow shone among a sea of lifelessness.
“[It] made me think many thoughts: of the sense of wonder and how easily it fades among the worries and cares that beset us all; of how important it is to rekindle it and to remain open to the spontaneous moments of grace which will intrude upon the fixed habits and routines of our lives if we will only let them,” Gonsalves said.
With themes centering around the march of time and the temporary nature of everything, KOBO Town crafts a narrative meant to encourage an appreciation of all.
“The common thread running through all is a feeling of impermanence: this is an album about the swift passing of time, the unceasing rhythm of that clock whose swinging pendulum marks the moods and movements of any age, which humbles our greatest endeavours and endows every fleeting moment with a value beyond measure,” Gonsalves explained.
Placed second on the track list, “Carnival Of The Ghosts” sets the stage for what’s to come in the rest of the album. Will you join Gonsalves and his ghostly gang in a once-in-a-lifetime Carnival?