ALBUM REVIEW: GHOST:HELLO – THE SOUND OF COLOR IN SPACE

Full disclosure, I’m Facespace pals with bassist/vocalist William Jennings of Ghost:Hello (formerly of Asphyxian, with whom we once shared a bill under our prior moniker of The Gingerdead Men). Ghost:Hello is his latest project after somewhat “retiring” from “bands” a few years back. I always thought he had a knack for pursuing unique sounds and concepts throughout the numerous incarnations of Asphyxian and that continues here with Ghost:Hello. The band takes on the interesting timbre of drum+bass+synth with the occasional vocal and samples. It’s a unique approach in a scene dominated by guitar worship. The band also features the drummer of another popular Ohio export, Simian Soul Charger. I’m not sure if the synth player, Nina Skok, played in any other bands before this. This is the band’s debut LP after releasing a double single earlier this year (that you should totally check out, by the way) on Bandcamp.

Ever the staunch-DIYer, The Sound Of Color In Space was recorded by Jennings and it sounds great. The drums have a brightness to them that really gives it a great, “live in your room” feel. They’ve got a ton of attack, but not a lot of body, so don’t expect the drums to thump along and you’ll be alright. Everything is crystal clear, so quit yer gripin’! Jennings bass sounds pretty righteous behind it’s simple signal path of bass > Big Muff > amplifier > speaker > microphone. At times it sounds like it’s doubled, but that could just be a trick in the way it’s mixed. The synth parts sound pretty cool and give the songs character. The samples are what they are… there’s some slicing and dicing and stuttering at times that is kinda neat. The vocals cover a lot of ground, when present, ranging from falsetto weirdness to bizarro crooning, screaming to vocoded oddity. Again, I like how original they sound within the “stoner metal” genre.

The Sound of Color in Space is coming out this fall, and you’d do well to check it out when it hits the streets. Also, be sure to check the band out as they begin hitting the regional club circuit this summer. – Jason

Alcubierre Metric – The album opens with a brooding electronic intro courtesy of a synthesizer playing a looping “circus-like” melody. It’s got a Wendy Carlos vibe to it, easily recalling a dreary dystopian skyline or a spinning, abandoned space station. It’s short and sweet, fading into the opening cut that takes an abrupt turn.

Fingerstache – After the electronic tease of the intro, I was shocked when the band suddenly rips into a Fu Manchu style boogie featuring just the bass and drums. Where’d the synth go?! It’s a fun head-bobber of a tune! You know what, this bass riff kinda reminds me of Bridesmaid! Sweet. Two minutes in, they hit on a brief neck wrecker before venturing into an extraterrestrial jazz club (here comes that synth!). Thumbs up!

Perfect – Here we go, we’re a couple tracks in and the band is really starting to accentuate who they want to be with the synth joining in on a counter-melody to the bouncing bass riff that makes up the verse. Jennings’ vocal makes its debut with a falsetto that suits the throbbing QOTSA style groove excellently. I love the “ahhhh ah” backing vocals that follow the brief verses. I’m nodding along with ease. Fun song! “I’m perfect in all ways, always” is a nicely tongue-in-cheek sort of lyric. The “reprise the riff, but slower” ending is cool. Thumbs up.

The Mouth Of The Gift Horse – Geez, I wasn’t expecting the shrieking screaming vocals that open this track! The tempo is up and so is the urgency in the riff and rhythms. I’ve got a bit of stink face going on here, man. At just over two-minutes long, this track is pretty direct and to-the point aside from the brief spacey-excursion through the bridge. It’s a ripper. Thumbs way up.

Bardo State – This track features a pulsing synth riff over a steady drum beat, all accompanying a smothering of sampled dialogue. It’s alright. At five minutes long, it might be a bit much for me. The band does try to keep it interesting by dropping the drums out and filtering the synth burble, but overall, I’m not loving it.

Nemesis – This song is a brooding number that focuses more on Jennings sideshow crooning than weirdo riffs or bombastic glory. Of all the tracks on here, this one seems the most like an Asphyxian track to me and lacks the strangeness of Ghost:Hello that I feel the rest of the tracks possess. It’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with the song, but also nothing I’m totally loving.

Burnout – All right! This track was previously released to the interwebs earlier in 2019 and introduces the vocoder on the vocal, a neat effect when accompanying the meaty, head-banger riff that forms the basis of the tune. It gives the song an Add N To X sort of vibe, especially true considering the swelling waveforms crashing throughout the song, courtesy of the synthesizer. A minute from the end, the band slips into an uptempo riff that’s fun and *gasp* a guitar lead shows up! Good stuff! Bang your head!

Spit Of Stars – I like the urgent, nervous beat that opens this track before the bass and synth pile in. The dance beat makes this another fun song to jam along to. It’s oddly reminding me of the Rapture meeting Big Business. The “snake oil salesman” vocal is an excellent fit, and I’m digging this tune. The slowed down groove of the bridge is a nice touch, along with the well-placed foreign language sampled dialogue that accompanies it. Thumbs up, it’s a rocker!

Poison Swan – The album closer emerges from the fading din of Spit Of Stars and builds nicely with reverb soaked synth (or perhaps it’s a multi-tracked bass melody?) and a jazzy drum rhythm. It swells to a head a bit past the two minute mark. It’s a rainy sounding groove that makes me think of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner for some reason. The ending of the song seems to devolve into a wash of noise and conflict, pulling apart like a poorly constructed re-entry vehicle before congealing on the main groove to wrap it up nicely.

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