Thursday, 27 October 2011

Grey Lantern presents... Ghosting Season @ Kraak Gallery, Saturday 22nd October 2011

It can’t just be the mere proximity of Hallowe’en on the Gregorian calendar that has ushered in a cluster of emergent recording artists opting for ‘ghost’ in their name; it seems to be the onset of the 2010s in general. Manchester’s fuzzy reverb-shrouders Ghost Outfit are one. Mercury Prize recognised Ghostpoet and Holy Ghost! have both released records this year while Sheffield bedroom remixologist Ghost Hunter has also spent the start of this decade using a moniker that includes ‘ghost’. That’s before you even consider the Swedish black metal mysteries named, simply, Ghost.

However, none of those are the headlining attraction tucked away in Northern Quarter’s Kraak Gallery. That accolade falls to Ghosting Season, a pair originally from Leeds who’re now residing in the M postcode, a fact for which Manchester is grateful. Not only have they switched city, but also name; on the Hallowe’en theme they’ve merely changed costume, now appearing under the lexical apparel of spirits rather than the previous fierily threatening imagery conjured by worriedaboutsatan.

First of all, Grey Lantern promotions have compiled a bill shared by three others. Veí’s laconic, languidly looping chimes and shuffles are still awaiting the perfect setting as a scenic film’s score but the performance is memorable for the effects his basslines have on the ceiling panels, which vibrate as the physical manifestations of the musical tectonics.

Hourglass Sea is almost as far removed from that as possible. The ceiling panels must take a pounding, not that it would feature anywhere near the top of a list of concerns during a deluge of unrestrained musical ADD. The incongruous venue and lack of audience response count against him in mitigation, but the overly hyper homage to both DJ and Guitar Hero is his own doing. Parts of the polished live production are a more fidgety M83, punctuated intermittently by screaming lead guitar and then tarnished by tones close to Pendulum.

A more balanced set follows from Cloud Boat. Balanced in the sense that high and low pitched vocals are equally catered for amidst the echoes of sampled beats and ringing guitar, despite deriving from the same mouth. That vocal range is the main display of originality by the seated pair of purveyors of downtempo dub and daydream dynamics who, particularly when compared with their R&S Records label mates and alumni (notably James Blake), are very à la mode.

Which leads succinctly back to the earlier point about bands with ‘ghost’ in their name. Unsurprisingly not dissimilar to their ulterior worriedaboutsatan selves, Ghosting Season add their trademark bow-operated guitar density to samples and synths, sending shimmers like a submariner’s SONAR. The twosome take uptempo turns in the direction of techno floor-fillers – remarkably failing to cause much of a stir from an eerily static crowd, just as Hourglass Sea before them. That comparison stops there though because, although Ghosting Season provoke more pensive chin stroking than hip gyrating, their appeal can be summarised as similar to that of Fuck Buttons, Walls or The Field within the realm of IDM. But should you plant them in a club environment, surely the roof would erupt.

Words: Ian Pennington
Images: Alex Dorweiler

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