We Have A Ghost
Bleeding Light Records
Full disclosure: I’m going into this review utterly blind. I’d never heard of We Have A Ghost until this record came across the desk at the HQ, and moreover the producer behind the project has opted for anonymity, so I’m at a loss as far as previous work or location goes. It’s an album with a convoluted genesis (various versions of these tracks have appeared on Bandcamp releases in various forms, though this is being pitched as the proper debut), with a vinyl release due from Bleeding Light in a month, and mentions have been made of home-pressed CDs and digital copies, yet those seem to have vanished from the net. With a lot of hubbub yet no grounding, I felt as though I was heading into one of those restaurants where yr blindfolded with the intent of heightening the sense of taste when I cued this one up. With or without ceremony I’m glad I yielded, as this (relatively short) record offers an excellent guided tour of shoegaze, post-rock, and industrial rock climes, all with a flair for mystery and emotion.
Once again, I was heading into this with no preconceptions, so when early tunes “Computerrok” and “The Incident” came on through, I thought I had We Have A Ghost pretty well triangulated. The former track has a sharp, bracing drumline stuck to slowly intensifying minor key synth leads, the sort of menacing electrorock we’ve seen done so well by the likes of Black Strobe, Kill Memory Crash, and Motor. The latter was a more downtempo, seething bit of moody industrial rock in the style of The Fragile or recent Numan. “Fine by me,” I thought. “We have some tight, slightly progressive industrial-ish compositions where grooves are allowed to set in, unfold, and slowly be built upon.”
But as the album moved on, a softer set of shades began to come into focus. The same exploratory modus operandi was there, but the tight aggression was loosened, with simple, fuzzy melodies taking precedence. On “It Is What It Is”, postrock sunset skies are conjured through a simple piano melody, giving a freer feel to the drumming, which still takes much of the stage. “Walk Away”, one of the rare vocal tracks, sounds like an outtake from Telefon Tel Aviv’s near-perfect Immolate Yourself, with its simple harmonies and analog pulse showing rather than telling emotion. By the time things come to a close, the more pugnacious side of We Have A Ghost feels much further in the rear-view mirror than its actual twenty minute hiatus.
Though certainly not industrial as such, We Have A Ghost should appeal to fans of Our Thing, not only for the sheer quality of its tunes, but also for its deft hand at showing how stylistic tics we’re all well familiar with can be subtly blended with those from neighboring genres. That’s no mean feat, and puts We Have A Ghost in the same room as similarly expansive acts like Big Black Delta and SURVIVE, even if the particulars of those bands’ melange of sounds differs notably from our faceless host. Strong stuff to be sure, and a welcome reminder that jumping in sight unseen can have its rewards. Recommended.