Ghost Echo – “Isolated Dreams”

I’ve been following Ghost Echo for several months now as they prepared to submit their debut album to the world.  There is something about their sound that instantly made me stand up and notice, and in this review, I’ll try to explain what that is.  The album is called “Isolated Dreams” and it releases on March 25th.

The band comes to us from the Netherlands.  Ghost Echo is just a duo, made up of Remy de Wal and Karel Witte.  While I’m not totally sure which musician does what, I know that Karel is the vocalist, keyboardist, and guitarist.  I assume Remy does everything else.

Ghost Echo offers a divine blend of genres.  Their music reminds me at times of Tears for Fears and other times of modern prog rock/metal, such as Porcupine Tree or Riverside.  There is synth and electronic inspiration that can be heard clearly throughout the album, and so they often come off as New Wave, yet progressive and fresh and new.

The band really knows how to balance the various sounds they are using.  Some songs might sound ambient and pensive with touches of a clever guitar riff or haunting keyboard atmosphere to give them some texture.  Other songs might have more of a trip hop vibe with plenty of energy, synth, and a catchy chorus.  Their style is certainly vivid, per the album cover, and I can’t help but revisiting the album almost every day right now.

One thing is for sure, Karel has a fantastic voice.  I haven’t heard such a crystal clear, unadulterated new voice in some time.  He has a subtle innocence in his tone that feels fresh and young, and even in moments where he might slide a bit off key, I just find his voice arresting.  His vocals are certainly one of the biggest assets to this band.

The compositions are on point, too, though.  The band released four singles, and I’ve liked them all.  “Black Era” is the opener with a trip hop sound, a catchy chorus, and some moments that remind me of Riverside.  “Dust” comes next, and is the opposite.  It hovers in a slow-burning, gorgeous arc that pays off in unusual ways.  “Late Night” follows, and basically combines the first two tracks into a glorious, haunting, energetic introspection of a song.  The final single is called “Null Void”, and it is chock full of textures, but also guitar work and an overall cyberpunk vibe.  I love that.

I’ve just described four of the eight tracks on this record.  The rest are just as good.  “Monologue” uses lyrical samples from Blade Runner to create a colorful aura.  It’s a short ambient ballad, but I like it a lot.  “Ocean II” feels rather epic for what it is.  It is led more by guitar than most of the album, but it ends up rather personal and intimate.  “Stranger on a Train” is a catchy track, though it has no beat.  In fact, it reminds me a bit of a hanging ballad from A Perfect Circle, and that makes it great, in my book.

The final song on the album is the best overall.  It is called “Pitfalls”, and it is dark, textured, and superb.  With a huge atmosphere that threatens to swallow us whole, this song pines and emotes in a blackened abyss, lighted only by streaks of guitar and electronic accent.  It is a brilliant song, and the last few minutes are especially memorable.

Ghost Echo has a solid debut here, and even more than that.  “Isolated Dreams” reminds me of one of those debut albums that will be appreciated far more after the band has released a couple more albums, almost as if the quirks and slightly “off” moments will become endearing to fans who have learned more about them over time.  Still, this is an album that shines all by itself, too, and it certainly has the style and wits to take on anything else that has released this year.


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