Phil Maggi – Ghost Love
Posted In: Daniel W J Mackenzie, Ghost Love, Idiosyncratics Records, Phil Maggi, Phil Maggi - Ghost Love
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A well appropriated musical and textural contrast can be an incredibly satisfying thing to hear. That way of combining ambient prettiness with noise and fuzz chosen by the likes of Fennesz and Belong for instance, or Barn Owl’s dusty twilight stasis atop a bed of doomed grunt. The feeling of having your brain pulled in several directions at once or in a jarring or disorientating sequence, being forced to feel conflicting bodily and mental reactions as the material unfolds, can distinguish an interesting, multi-layered album from its counterparts.
What we have with Phil Maggi’s ‘Ghost Love’ is a set of tracks that visits various outposts of experimental music and wraps them up into something that shimmers with droning organic ambience on one hand; on the other it guides the listener through a quasi-ritualistic experience set out through primitive percussive or mechanical rhythms, captured ethnic vocal loops and even some Leyland Kirby-esque ‘hauntology’ (most obviously on the closing track) to push the unsettling atmosphere and support the record’s title.
And unsettling really is the word for the majority of this album. Tracks like ‘Hordes’ and ‘Meshes, Ashes’ seem to possess a sense of dread, steeped in weird history and darkly enchanting like uncovered sonic relics of a long abandoned time in a distant place. This seems to overlap into something more exotic as the ever changing locational character of other tracks aim to place us, briefly, in one of a variety of surreal climates. And again, the exoticism then overlaps with the aforementioned ambience that makes up a large part of the album’s lighter side, more in tune with the kind of delicate ambience you might expect from one of the wide selection of artist operating under the swollen ambient / drone umbrella. Though these tracks contrast notably with the otherness (Andrew Liles mastered this, which makes a strange kind of sense) they make for an album overview which is unpredictable, intriguing and fairly unique in it’s ability to smartly combine the ambient with the avant-garde. ‘Slavery’ is perhaps the finest example of this – a simple, Ous Mal sounding ostinato backed with layers of vocals and slapped drums that continues for six decidedly beautiful minutes.
And that, in a nutshell, is I think how this album succeeds. On paper it could easily be expected to form a bit of a mess, contrasting ideas not working together but cancelling each other out and weakening the overall work. It is not so. ‘Ghost Love’ bravely attempts to meld these and the result is an album full of artifacts to pick through, get lost in and emerge satisfied despite being none the wiser about what the last forty two minutes mean and why the sounds have been married as they have… the lack of resolution one might feel at perhaps never knowing this only adds to its mystifying personality.
- Daniel W J Mackenzie for Fluid Radio