There has been an abnormal amount of excellent instrumental prog in 2017, or maybe I’m just listening to more than usual. Either way, I’ve heard a ridiculous amount of instrumental progressive music this year, and I already know of much more to come this year. My latest find is Antethic’s “Ghost Shirt Society” that has both a really weird title and also a very likable vibe.
Antethic hails from Russia and has been around for several years now. The band consists of Alexander Lyvov on drums, samples, keys; Yuri Efremov on guitars and loops; and Konstantin Borisov on bass and keys. The trio plays music that is ambient and electronic, but which is also layered over post-rock and prog rock to the point where you might not use those other adjectives when describing it to your friends. So, there is this shoegaze tone to the album, but there are plenty of loops and gritty portions to balance that well, and the band is very good at creating climactic moments without making them seem cliché.
This whole album is just so damn uplifting and out of this world in feeling. Even when the band uses a grittier riff or bass line, such as on “Ilium” or their more climactic moments, it still feels clean and clear instead of dark. You might even call some of the songs “celestial” in tone, such as “Modulator”. Much of the album has this slightly fragmented or wispy feel to the guitar, almost “ghostly”, in a way. It reminds me of the synth soundtracks from some 80’s movies, only played with guitar instead. Yuri’s guitar licks often sound like echoes or reverb, but it’s all actually being played instead of just using effects or loops.
At other times, this album reminds me of the vast, empty feelings of The Book of Eli soundtrack, which I happen to love. “Cascadia” especially feels this way, and explodes into a massive flow of light and depth at the end. This song is one of the most emotional ones on the album. In more ways than one, the whole album does have this cinematic feel to it.
Konstantin does like to use some rather dirty bass sounds played against Yuri’s high strung guitar sound, meaning that you feel grounded but soaring at the same time. The bass lines here are usually quite distorted and full, and they’re completely filthy in the best way possible. I’m a huge fan of Alexander’s drums, too, as they often serve as the sole unfiltered touchstone in some of the songs. What I mean is that much of the drumming here sounds very acoustic and organic, and the beats laid down are phenomenal, but not overly technical.
“Ghost Shirt Society” is another stellar example of an emotionally stirring album. There are plenty of fantastic tracks here, and the album ends on a dampened note, which feels quite appropriate. I’ve mentioned the splendor of “Cascadia” already, but I also love a few other tracks. One favorite is “Metamachine”, which starts out with far more electronic programming than much of the album, but transitions into this very sweet rhythm that just keeps building and filling your head.
Other favorites are “Fragmented”, as it feels exactly that: disjointed (in a good way) between an electronic beat and addictive guitar musings; “Tsunami Museum”, which has this Blade Runner feel to it, but still maintains its bright and uplifting tone; and “Sentinel”, probably the funkiest track on the album. On that latter track, the guitar work is off the wall with lots of reverb and looping, and there’s almost a robotic feeling to it. Somehow, the band forms this crisscrossing rhythm into a sweet groove.
“Ghost Shirt Society” is another fantastic instrumental prog release in 2017. The album is emotional and beautiful in a pure and unadulterated fashion. Each and every track will grab you in some way, and the band isn’t afraid to change things up to achieve whole new groove ideas. Put this one on your list.