Review of Ghostophonia by Silent Strike & Makunouchi Bento

Feb 25, 2020
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Launched as the first release of the new label Cinemaude, cinematic and experimental sounds oriented, Ghostophonia is a real gem of experimental electronic music. Heavily based on the modified samples of Bela Bartók's folklore music from the Banat area, recorded on phonograph cylinders about a century ago, the album is the result of a collaborative live show between Silent Strike and Makunouchi Bento

The induced-state of the project is one of an imaginary soundtrack for a movie that will never be.. so you have to dream it yourself. Apart from the ghostly voices, you can hear lots of bass-heavy percussions, various bells, glitches, and ambient atmospheres. The sound surprises the listener by its diversity, everything changes not only from one song to another but also inside each track. Slop Wretched, one of my favorites starts with an ambient feeling with lots of stretched-out and modified voices and ends with a galore of machine-produced glitches and bits of sound. The main themes and sources are, though, voices recorded by Bela Bartók, little melodies with synthesizers layered on top and crazy but full of energy modifications of the main phonograph recordings.

 

Lost youth uses a combined detuned piano and flute which give you a feeling of loneliness and of a long-gone civilization that illustrates best the name of the album, Ghostophonia. Hidden beholder is made out of untraceable bits of sounds and cracks which come together as a melody using what seems to be a military orchestra, quickly deconstructed by glitches and quick changes of tempo. Fallen hunters starts abruptly with some contemporary church bells but the religious feeling quickly disappears into an oblivion of unidentifiable atmospheres with chirpings of digital birds and weird voices.  Our turn to hear them is maybe the most experimental track of the record, using no rule in constructing the sound, changing the pitch every few seconds and reversing samples in real-time. The composition of this track is perhaps the result of the album being recorded as a live performance, without any pre-arranged elements.

The uses of lots of voices do not make Ghostophonia a "vocal" album, as all the voices are sampled from Bartók's originals, detuned and re-arranged to sound like atmospheres or completely invented instruments. 

Signed by Sorina Vazelina, the album cover comes with a beautiful blue Byzantine influence, playing with contemporary iconography.

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