Sunday, 9 September 2012
New Artist Alert: Observing The Ghost - EP Review
'Ghost rock' is not a sub-genre I am all too familiar with. Apparently, there are two criteria that must be met before you can describe yourself as pioneers of such a style. Thus, progressive, atmospheric, and psychadelic feels must be key features in your sound, and all your members' names must start with the letter B. Or at least these two points are true of 'Observing The Ghost', the ghost-rocking quintet from Portsmouth, UK.
Observing The Ghost have spent the past year or two making a name for themselves across the South-Coast, playing in a whole load of venues I'm all too familiar within in the Southampton/Portsmouth/Winchester areas. The guys are due to release their debut album 'Burn The Tsunami' on Coffee Jingle Records on October 26th, but until then I've had a listen to last year's EP 'We Will Find The Sun'.
With five tracks on offer, the EP kicks off with 'Now We Are Shadows', and sure enough my progressive and atmospheric senses are tingling. With a nod to the former, the vocals don't kick in until over a minute into the track; perhaps the guys are setting out their 'progressive stall' if you will, but I can't help but feel myself yearning for a much quicker introduction. The way the track starts on the EP could be a great feature live, but I'd love for it all to kick in at 25 seconds, there's a great window for a real punchy drop. But that's just me. When it does kick in, the wall of sound is so dense and texturally thick that there's a great platform to experiment with layering and building throughout the song which I, as the listener, look forward to. The vocals are simple but effective and the drums are interesting behind the scene-setting guitar and fort-holding bass. The chorus is a little messy but that's more a nod to the texture and I'm sure works well live, and I love the progression from half-time to double-time and back to a settling half-time in the second verse. There's a slight unsettling nature apparent in the vocals now with a few effects creeping in, showcasing a dip into psychadelic and electronic quarters that works really well. There's no hiding from the fact that it's a bit of a monster in length, with a self-indulgent guitar section which extends into the outro but it's certainly a monster musically as well, a great opener.
'Angles and Opinons' marks the half-way point of the EP, with more unnerving electronica-laced riffs and rhythms before the vocals seek to find some common ground in the verse. Vocally, the chorus sounds a little weak compared with the music on show but melodically it is branching into the stadium-rock-friendly progression that is also cited amongst the band's influences, perhaps a hint of Coldplay somewhere in the mix. Again it makes for a really interesting audio offering though, something a little different from the norm and daring to hold its own. The track is less memorable than our opener but is still in keeping with the theme of the EP and I definitely wouldn't go as far as to describe it as a filler, ending a lot stronger than it began.
'Rebirth in Reflections' is the EP's closing statement, headed with an interesting groove and settling into a nice 6/8 signature. It's a much calmer affair than its predecessors but it feels as if the band have thought long and hard about the tracklisting of the EP which signifies a real journey for the listener. The drums stand out for all the right reasons once more, showcasing yet more creative grooves and fills as the track closes the EP and rounds off our musical outing safely yet comfortably. I'm not sure on the guitar tone for the short solo section that falls off into obscurity towards the end but overall this marks the finale well to a great-sounding, and altogether rather different, EP as the full-band bring around the last chorus one more time with a final goodbye.
Observing The Ghost will be on the road in support of their debut album from 19th October, for full info on locations and to keep up to date with the band, be sure to check them out on Facebook.