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MUSIC: GHOST VAPORS – The Valley Of Ashes

| 18 May 2018 | Reply

MUSIC: GHOST VAPORS – The Valley Of Ashes
October 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

It doesn’t matter how plugged in you think you are to the musical landscape, you’re always going to miss a few class releases along the road. Maybe it’s the digital age, information overload, or the difficulties in marketing music, no matter how good it is.

Ghost Vapors – essentially Artifical Agent guitarist Brad Jendza on guitars and vocals, and Steve Swanson on everything percussive, with a little “special performance” help from Mark Christopher and Rick Browarski – released this excellent and diverse album way back in 2012.

Its eclecticism may well be why it flew so far under the radar. Incredible difficult to pigeonhole or genrefy, what shines through the most is what incredible artists these chaps are.

Opener Hang Up Your Guns may be the closest thing here to Artificial Agent’s KISS-centric rock, then they left turn into the angsty darkpop of Scars To Hide, before plunging into electrorock (think Regurgitator) for Robot Girlfriend. We Are Lost is a ‘70s love ballad as it may have been interpreted by Coldplay – but actually really good, rather than tepidly dull – and is followed by a short found sound and piano piece called Exit, with hospital noise. Against all odds, it’s entirely moving. Side One (yes, we have a vinyl copy – and it’s glorious) closes with Arc Of Descent, a pure slice of dreampop that is part Mazzy Star and part Brian Wilson – and that may be the biggest compliment I’ve ever given a song.

Over on side 2 (I mentioned it was a record, right? You can probably get a CD or download, but why would you when you could buy a sexy, dappled blue record!??!) there’s more of the same – which means a whole heap of different.

Astronaut is electropop with acoustic guitars. It makes me think of Bowie. That’s not a bad thing either, right? The Ballad Of George Dickel’s Brit Music Hall vibe sounds like it could have been cooked up by McCartney & Harrison before they fell out during Let It Be; then Give It To This leans more towards Artificial Agent’s rock n’ roll, with a poppier, almost Gary Numan feel to it.

Just when you think you have Ghost Vapors sussed —- Tomorrow’s Just The Same. It sounds like Beck, circa Odelay. WTF? How great is this!??!? But Ghost Vapors aren’t out of suprises yet – Lifeboat sails into waters similar to The Beatles lysergic phase, with a touch of World Party, and they close the album with Amputated Phantom Limbs, which could almost be Marilyn Manson, if he were Ghost Vapors.

Altogether wildly eclectic and a wild ride, perhaps the most amazing thing about The Valley Of Ashes is that the album (for me, at least) works as a coherent whole. Magnificent.

Category: CD Reviews

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