With the vast majority of progressive music being rock or metal, sometimes I just need a break. Right when I’m feeling that way, I generally happen upon an album that arrests my attention in new ways. New Ghost’s debut album, called “New Ghost Orchestra”, is exactly that type of album. It is progressive in completely abnormal ways, and that is why I love it. The album released on July 12th.
New Ghost hails from Sheffield, UK. The band calls itself a “group effort” or a “collaboration”, and does not list which instruments were played by which musicians. I would guess that doesn’t really matter much here, though. The listed musicians are Chris Anderson, John Sephton, Arian Malekpour, Gareth Hughes, Caroline Cawley, Dolourous Jaemi, Nic Bowden, Lizzie Bowden, and Craig B. Chris and John seem to be the primary composers.
New Ghost’s sound is what I would call ambient progressive pop. The music is dreamy, haunting, and suspended, and you may find that it is even purposefully off key ever so slightly at times. The band wants you to feel the restless textures and enigmatic concepts that they have created, and you can indeed feel them in your bones while you listen. There is obviously an indie pop/rock element going on here, too, and I would also say that post-rock is definitely a major influence. Abstract vocal harmonies, featuring both male and female voices, are a major part of the mysterious glory found here, too. Regardless, New Ghost creates music that makes you feel as light as a feather, while also grounding you with grainy textures and evocative melodies.
One of the things that makes this album so great is the attention to detail. The band is subtle and even abstract in much of what they offer, so this album does not feel over the top or in your face. Instead, the music washes over you gently and spaciously, and it may take multiple listens to hear certain things or to understand particular odd moments. When you grasp the minimalist approach, though, the music begins to feel truly intelligent and precise.
For an example of that abstraction, one of the most illustrious parts of the album is the two-track suite “Sleepwalkers”. This suite is vivid and dreamy, but is so inconspicuous that you may drift off along with it. The song is mostly electronic in nature, and climaxes satisfyingly while also wandering in interesting ways. It comes off as fevered and fervent, but also poetic and untouched.
There are some other tracks I want to mention. “Hours” is one of my favorites, maybe even of the year. It is one of the few songs here with pounding drums and straightforward singing at first, but it transitions into an ethereal atmosphere of drums and abstract vocal harmonies that feel otherworldly. “Burning Out” is a beautifully wrought piece with something of a trip hop beat to it, but the glorious melody rises above everything. “Nightdrive” has more grit and darkness. It burns with electronic power, but the powerful guitars are what make this song peal splendidly. “Stampy” ends the album with granular light and pure majesty. Like any good post-rock tune, it leaves you feeling happy and full of light.
New Ghost has crafted an album that is both feverishly fleeting and meticulously memorable. After only one listen, I felt drawn back to hear it again, only to discover more depth and more brilliance. It’s one of those albums that you will try to grasp, but it will flow between your fingers, begging for you to give spirited chase. I love that about this album, and I have a feeling that I’ll be listening to it quite a bit this year.
Find New Ghost online: