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Ghost Rhythms — Spectral Music
(Cuneiform Rune 486, 2021, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-04-07

Spectral Music Cover art

Spectral Music is the second Ghost Rhythms album to be produced during the Covid times of remote recording. As with Imaginary Mountains (2020) before it, the musicians had to be recorded separately, though certainly the quality of the music doesn’t suffer. Many musicians, producers, and listeners like to talk about the magic of “musicians playing together in a room,” but in fact wonderful music can result from other processes just as well. The group on this album consists of ten members (drums, keyboards, guitar, flute, accordion, oud, cello, and saxes) joined by four guests (voices, violin, and trumpet). The music was composed by Xavier Gélard (drums) and Camille Petit (keyboards) and it’s the same intoxicating brew of complex rhythms, independent repeating patterns, and varying textures that the band is known for. To my ear, this does not sound like repetition of what they’ve already done, even though it’s very much in the same vein. For one thing, what they do is so distinctive that refinements and variations are still not going to sound like anyone else. For another, even staying within their established modus operandi is far less restrictive than something like the blues. The range of instruments available gives the composers a broad palette to work with, and they make the most of it. Gélard’s drumming is also a big part of this — his parts are unconventional, but totally in sync with the complexity surrounding him. These are very sophisticated compositions, but not at all inaccessible — I think a non-musician would find the music unusual but not unpleasant, especially if they’re familiar with modern soundtrack music. (Not that Spectral Music really reminds me of any particular soundtrack — it’s just that for many listeners, movie soundtracks are their only exposure to sounds outside of pop and standard rock.) The bottom line is that anyone who has liked previous Ghost Rhythms albums is sure to enjoy this one, and it’s an excellent introduction for those who’ve never heard the band.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Ghost Rhythms

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