The Brainchild Of Guitarist, Woody Aplanalp, Bonsai Universe Takes You On A Journey
To Another World With Its Psychedelic Electric Sound
Woody Aplanalp has toured extensively, playing guitar and collaborating with a diverse array of artists such as Bobby Womack, Lauryn Hill, Nels Cline, Thomas Mapfumo and more. In 2017 he began working on a project he called Bonsai Universe and in 2018 he released the first album from that project, Moonstream. Critics described the debut as “intoxicatingly different” (Tom Carter, KZSU) and claimed that “(he) effectively captures your attention by combining different styles into one instantly delectable mix.” (BabySue Music Review)
This year, in between road gigs, he worked on the Bonsai Universe upcoming release, Too Many Ghosts. Too Many Ghosts was produced, engineered and mixed by Aplanalp and mastered by Tony Austin, who plays drums on the song “It’s A Shame” and is currently touring with Kamasi Washington. “I went to college with Tony,” explained Aplanalp. “We’ve probably been in 5 or 6 bands together.” The same holds true for the rest of guests on the album—veterans of past musical campaigns that Aplanalp has known for years, distinctive and notable in their own right. This familiarity and history lends itself a certain warmth to Aplanalp’s dreamy ethereal compositions.
The 15-song album kicks off with the aforementioned “It’s a Shame” which is a nod to Bobby Womack, “It’s my version of a disappointment blues,” said Aplanalp. “I used to play Bobby’s first hit song, ‘It’s All Over’, so this is kind of a twist on that.” “Beepsy” is a hypnotic electro-pop number that was written for Aplanalp’s cousin, Beepsy. –
“Beepsy , I thought you’d like to hear a song just for you | It might not be the best song , but I still hold it dear “.
The title song, “Too Many Ghosts” is a dreamy melancholic song lamenting impressions that are left behind, “In the small hours before the dawn | something still there something gone | In this old house outside of town, something won’t stop , hanging around”.
Aplanalp resides in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and there’s a thread of California running throughout the album. “Walnut Grove” was written as a nostalgic memory of growing up in Rosemead, CA. An avid cyclist, “Altadena” was written for his favorite cycling route that cuts through that city, while “Ode to Ridge Road” is also a favorite road that cuts across the San Gabriels to Mt. Baldy. And then there’s the funky tune, “Crumbs” because, as he explains, “California is perpetually drought ridden…so yeah.”
The album ends with “My Little Corner”, which is a song from 1960 by Anita Bryant. “However,” he clarifies, “this cover is closer to the Yo La Tengo version from the 90’s.”
With Too Many Ghosts Aplanalp has struck planetary gold again. Steve Hochman, music critic for KPCC (NPR-affilliate) said “…as Bonsai Universe, it seems he’s a lovelorn, instrospective, gentle spirit with a cosmic gaze.” Aplanalp explains it like this, “With this project, each song could be its own little universe, or you could say, A Bonsai Universe.”