Nada Surf (photo by Bernie Dechant, PR)
New York's Nada Surf has returned with their second album of 2016 and it’s a unique entry into the band’s acclaimed discography. Peaceful Ghosts is a live album pairing Nada Surf with the Babelsberg Film Orchestra, based out of Potsdam, Germany.
This distinctive collaboration documents a June 21, 2016 performance with the Babelsberg Film Orchestra for Radio Eins, a Berlin based radio station. Performed in front of an intimate audience of just 50 people, this concert was actually the second orchestra performance for Nada Surf — the band played with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra four days earlier for FM4, a national radio station in Austria.
The opportunity to be involved in this project came unexpectedly in 2015 as the band members were working on their latest studio album You Know Who You Are, released this past March. The choice of which songs would be performed was largely guided by Calexico's Martin Wenk who has worked with Nada Surf in the past.
The decisions were based on adaptability with an orchestra and not on popularity, so Peaceful Ghosts isn't a “best of” collection. German composer Max Knoth arranged all thirteen songs on Peaceful Ghosts which originate from all but one of their studio albums. Four selections are pulled from You Know Who You Are, three from 2002’s Let Go and 2008’s Lucky, and one song each from 1998’s The Proximity Effect, 2005’s The Weight Is A Gift and 2012’s The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy. Only Nada Surf's 1996 debut High/Low is overlooked.
These new interpretations retain the characteristics of the original versions. The orchestral accompaniment add depth and dimension, as opposed to overwhelming the songs and altering their original feel. At the core, these are still rock songs played by a rock quartet, but with a new profundity.
Peaceful Ghosts is an opportunity for Nada Surf to shine a new light on the band's already impressive catalog. Think of it as a grand celebration of a band looking back on nearly a quarter century of their existence.