Narrows by Warm Ghost (Partisan Records)
From the opening seconds of Narrows‘ first track GTWS you’ll know you’re in for something weird and wonderful. History flows through Warm Ghosts’ compositions via British New Wave, synthesizers and experimentation, today’s glitch hop, ambient electronics and digital effects.
Much like M83 and Ulrich Schnauss before them, on their debut album the duo of Paul Duncan and Oliver Chapoy invite you in with earthy vocals, squelchy percussion and pneumatic pumping synth patterns creating a dreamy state of bliss. Duncan and Chapoy aren’t content to craft catchy pop songs, though they do, they just sneak inside your psyche with barely registered ambience, like sound samples of flowing water, clatterings and cluckings, as heard on eerie/pleasant opener GTWS, Duncan singing in heavy echo (and I’m guessing) “So will you be back/ some rainy day” over and over again.
I Will Return begins on a fluffy wall of synths and squishy/crunchy percussion, flowing into a slow groove, woodsy percussion breaking up the fuzz, Duncan singing something about ships gathering rust. Once One has those crunchy hand claps again, samples of machine loops, loopy synth patterns flittering about, Duncan doing his best romantic vocal lead, though partly obscured by the electronics and echoes.
Myths on Rotting Ships builds on a bouncing beat, adding percussive claps and clatters, as Duncan breathily sings of “lightning through the stained glass” and “muggles fire across the eyelids“, the sounds piling on top of each other until everything melts down into a hot fuzz. Inside Out is a New Romantic song for a new generation, Duncan’s yearning vocals swimming in a pool of gelid synths and echoing percussion.
Splay of Road sounds positively futuristic, Duncan sings of mysterious subjects over a train on tracks repetitive loop, arid synth pads float over all, earth and water evoked in the music like a modern day Tea in the Sahara.
Warm Ghosts’ Narrows closes with An Absolute Light, Duncan tremulously singing over crushed marbles and gravel percussion loops and forlorn keyboards, taking a new direction halfway through as a piano plonks and a bass drum thumps, words get lost in the wind and horns vibrate like the gates of heaven opening.
(Review by Bret Miller)