Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Backyard Ghost - 2014 - Descantece

Dark Ambient
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  • 8 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Adrift , The Premature Burial
Backyard Ghost's album is definitely not for the faint-hearted. If I didn't experience a "dark" (black metal&co) phase about 10 years ago, I might have hesitated to hit play on certain tracks, and probably considered them blasphemous as my sense of foreboding grew stronger. But Descântece (Romanian term meaning "incantations") is a mild, yet disturbing dark ambient album, having the supernatural as a prevailing theme: ghosts, burials (and premature ones at that), haunted forests, spirits and rituals. Releasing a mere 8 days before Halloween must have been a joy to "ritualists" everywhere.

Interesting enough, the artist is not Romanian. He did use Romanian titles and the album cover features a Transylvanian castle. When asked about his interest in Romania, he confesses: “I Guess I Am Interested In Romania, Eastern Europe And Its Folklore, I Have A Good Friend From Romania As Well And Wish To Honor Her…” 

The album’s second track, The Premature Burial is similar to Negură Bunget's atmospheric track Primul Om, (probably the most famous Romanian black metal band) as far as the bright, symphonic, positive moment of epiphany is concerned; even mentioning these words - epiphany, positive - is blasphemous to Backyard Ghost and to this genre. But I never really understood the meaning nor the need of these bright parts in this context. I assume they're trying to bring some balance to the troubled, abyssal tunes. Nonetheless The Premature Burial's brief epiphany-moment gets altered by the excessive use of the resonance effect of the analog synth. I would have preferred a more extended 4:16 part and less resonance effect (that reminded me too much of Jean Michel Jarre). Apart from that, it is one of the most melodic tracks on the album, along with Adrift. Hoia Baciu refers to a Transylvanian forest famous for its "paranormal activity". If Backyard Ghost used field recordings for this track (and he probably did), they were taken from this forest, to our excitement and terror, while the ending track of the album, Stafie (Romanian term meaning "ghost"), portrays the perfect outro taken from a horror movie. 

The track titles may make your skin crawl, so I will refrain from going deeper into that. After some time I became interested in how much the artist “means” with his work. How serious he seems when he composes something like “You Drew A Star And I Drew A Circle”. A friend of mine (interested in this genre) shared his insights with me: “I see things as a performance, an act. There are some radical bands, too, but they wouldn’t leave prison anytime soon”. Performance it is, then. 
A few more words about the artist: Backyard Ghost really enjoys using ellipses when describing his music, indicating uncertainty, unfinished thoughts and probably mystery. However, the song titles here and in dark ambient as a whole tend to leave subtlety at the door, with titles such as The Premature Burial, Neglected Spirits, First Signs of Infection, trying so hard to evoke a sense of dread, and terror, that they remove any sense of mystery. Even though these titles suit their respective tracks, leaving a little something to your listener's imagination goes a long way. 

On the contrary, Backyard Ghost, when asked to describe the message conveyed by his music, he cites the opposite effect: “I Usually Let My Musical Works Speak For Themselves… And Let The Listener Use Their Imaginations, Like Reading A Good Book… To Conjure Images And Deeper Meanings To The Sounds.

I'm not that type of person who listens to music on max, but for the Backyard Ghost's rich sound texture I made an exception. No one will blame you anyway,as your neighbours might be more inclined to associate the dissonant drones with some bird trapped in their air shaft, rather than the music you listen to.

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