[sic] Magazine

(ghost) – Departure

I’m not an IDM expert. Never have been and yet I receive more than my fair share. Why? Because a lot of it has one foot in post-rock, ambient, indietronica or industrial.

And a lot of it is brilliant, simply.

The great musical shifts in history have often been less about genre trends and more about the developing media, capabilities and the technology. Synth-pop, to give an example, didn’t take off because we all wanted to hear synths. It took off because Gary Numan entered a recording studio and someone had left a very expensive Minimoog behind. ‘Genres’ are misleading. The music is everything. But the media, the techniques these are often instrumental. (pun intended)

(ghost) (real name Brian Froh ) is a writer and producer of some repute in the aforementioned IDM arena. I first knew of his work through his remix of Dalot’s ‘Missing Pieces’. It was a fitting taster for what was to come. Departure , is no departure from the (ghost) sound. This is bleak, sombre, filmic music. The opening track here would accompany something like the ‘train scene’ at the beginning of Tarkovsky’s Stalker brilliantly. (note to self – upload fan video to youtube) If only the rest of the album was as strong. Standard IDM tropes comprise too much of Departure – the clicky ‘Plans To escape’, the gamer-esque ‘Soft Sands’. Full marks for rhythmic ability but where’s the melody? Where’s the harmony? There’s more than a nod to Boards Of Canada nostalgia (‘Endless Roads’) but it never develops further than that. Other tracks such as ‘Abyss’ and ‘Distance’ feel like n5MD staples. In other words they are going for that ‘ghost in the shell’, future emotive vibe that the label is famous for. And they do it fine. No more. No less.

Then it gets classy. ‘Leaving It All Behind’ is as moving as its title might suggest and personal fave ‘Window Seat’, swirls beautifully like Mogwai meets Autechre . ‘Vertical’ is also a lovely way to end proceedings but Departure can’t quite win me over fully. I can hear the quality on display but I just don’t think I’m (ghost)s target audience. Sadly this album just hasn’t got enough crossover appeal to wrest itself free of IDM’s confines. Does it even need to though, I wonder? The IDM market is buoyant. I’ll be interested to see what (ghost)’s peers and other IDM fans think of this record. For people like me, this is too chilled, too haunted to truly love. Where Hammock gave us the remarkable Departure Songs (ghost) gives us Departure …..and no songs.

Artist at n5MD