I recently received an email out of the blue from Tom Currie ... a friend and bandmate of Steve Swartz (Swartz_et)... who records on his own as “The Narrows”. He has a new album coming out in November and wanted me, along with a whole host of others, to hear it.
I duly downloaded it and have been obsessing about it ever since... interspersing listens with music from my podcast or netlabel. To say it is good is... well... an understatement.
“There's a ghost in me” is an utter delight... 36 minutes of pure atmospheric neo-classical joy. Think Sigur Ros at their quieter non-guitar instrumental moments and you’ll get an insight into how this sounds.
Currie’s piano-playing is simply divine... truly engaging and attention-keeping... he delights in and delivers the most beautiful melodies... ones that sit in your consciousness long after they have stopped playing.
What's more... Currie creates lovely moments of atmospheric ambience that cradle these melodies. These glitches and drones immerse the listener... and provide an all-encompassing experience that I, for one, am truly grateful for.
The album commences with “boxcar cut, 1942” ... a short opening that features some delightful droning ambience before opening into a superb slice of post-rock entitled “who are the ’hidden people’?”. Piano. Strings. Guitar. All come together to create the most sensual of soundscapes. One that meanders in the most delightfully hypnotic manner... setting the scene for the rest of the album.
The next track is simply stunning. “Emporer Steamer” demonstrates how talented Currie is with a piano... creating an exquisite melody that is underpinned with and complemented by some interesting found-sound percussion and what I think is the distinctly nautical sound of a melotron. It is a stunning reminder of all that is good in the convergent space between post-rock, ambient and neo-clasical.
We then move to “swimming pools”... a track that plays in a more ambient space... loops and drones intertwine to create something seriously beautiful... accented by a haunting melody played effortlessly on a violin. The glitches and ticks in the background add some warmth to the track... giving it a homely feel as if Currie himself is playing for you in your living room.
This feeling of warmth is extended to the track that follows. “you’re beautiful, like a mayfly” is exemplary. At just over 8 minutes long... it is a delightful soundscape that sits nicely within the overall whole of the album. Not a filler... because there are no fillers on this album... but a strong piece centred on the beautiful sound of the cello.
The penultimate track - “some will fall, some will fly” - is a very expressive and atmospheric track that utilises the combination of violin and piano well. They complement each other nicely... playing off each other... creating a deeply moving and emotive track. It is almost heartbreaking in the melancholy that it expresses... and as such works really, really well as a precursor for the last track on the release - “the man in the boat”.
“The man in the boat” completes this release eloquently... reminding the listener of what they have heard. A drone and a melody played softly on a piano provide the listener with the opportunity to recap... to recall all they have heard... whilst also providing something new to mull over and consider. At this point, the release finishes... it doesn't go out with a bang but more a slow but eloquently delightful decay... a fade to black, so to speak.
To say I have enjoyed this release would be an understatement... I have loved this release and would heartily recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in post-rock, ambient and/or neo-classical soundscapes.
I have embedded a SoundCloud player to let you have a wee listen to the album... to whet your appetite, so to speak, before “there’s a ghost in me” is released via Bandcamp on 27th November.
I made a mistake and forgot to credit Colette Alexander with the cello playing on this release. I have amended my text above and apologise to Tom and Colette for any inconvenience caused.