Ghost Notes

Apalusa - Ghost Notes

Apalusa – “Ghost Notes”

Those amber, autumnal leaves start to sway as the flickering drone comes to life. It is old, skeletal music, ancient and strong. The drones have been around for a long time, the years proof as to their continued strength. They are survivors, old creators. The dark tunnel of drone must surely date back to the dawn of the universe, when it was just an infant. It has fallen to Earth from the brink of outer space, resting where it cannot be found, until it is time to awaken.

The drone is a house of falling leaves, built for October. It’s a decrepit house, with a forgotten, mud-streaked field behind it and a murky, cool mist lingering over the front like a creeping vine of autumn air. A desolate opening reveals the sparse rural environment. The grass looks like a razor blade painted in green, but it sways and surrenders to the breeze; it does what the breeze wants it to. Similarly, the drone is nothing but a puppet, overseen by Apalusa’s talented hand. The phantom can’t be seen; like music, it can only be felt. It’s foreboding music. It pounds on the door, the one that keeps us protected from the outside world, the static crackling and dissolving, leaving behind tiny imperfections in the wood.

Apalusa (Dan Layton) has returned with “Ghost Notes”, a sizzling drone album that snakes its way along ill-lit alleys and dingy streets of black. Its intent remains largely unknown, but it feels as if a victim lies somewhere along the line. Perhaps we drove past the scene of the crime without really noticing or comprehending it, trying to avoid confrontation in the hope that it’ll dissipate. It doesn’t.

‘Revoke’ is a crystal ball that speaks of something sinister. It’s already here, but it’s sleeping, lurking, ready to bite and in the brush, as if it were a poisonous viper. The drone is sturdy and strong, resistant to movement and cold to the touch. But it can be dampened, softened, as on ‘Flags of Failure’. The steady rumble of approaching doom dissolves into a spectral drone. It opens outwards just enough for a melody to squeeze through, a thin tone that feels frail and transient. It can’t stay in the dim light for long, and like an apparition it vanishes soon after it has appeared. And that proves to be the case – the track is the shortest one on the album.

Steely spider webs link the drones together, sticking resolutely to the music. The drone inflates like a red balloon that has been tainted with splotches of soil, or it may be that the dark blots are tiny spiders themselves, crawling over the drone as it progresses, sinking into the cracks. The drone floats in the air like a white sheet on a washing line. We all float down here, on the drone. The drones are reverberating abbeys that worship a dank, disfigured sound. Grey stone statues have crumbling features, have fallen into a sharp decline. The door is ajar, inviting you to come inside, but the scratched wood of the scraping texture flicks an uneasy switch in the back of the mind. The little plaque beside the house is far from cozy, but, in the fog, it at least tells us where we are. You can get lost in the music, and you don’t want to be out alone when the music is as dark as this. It’s a night spent in drone manor, where sheets of rain descend from the sky and hit the roof. The repeated rise and fall in the volume mirrors the recurring impact.

‘A Million Billion Miles’ shivers and shimmers as it travels. Everything flows together. The notes are a family who still call this place home.  A dusty tomb tells us otherwise, covered in layers of dry, choking static. You never see a Ferrari in a scenic, ambient photograph, and likewise there are never any outside notes to interrupt the flow. It’s a warm track, but it’s close to dissolving. Its melody is a safe retreat, a place that shuts out the cold of October. The frosty drone snakes its way through the music, but it can’t get past. A higher pitch comes and goes, but this, too, is a ghost of itself. Tiny guitar fragments begin to emerge, but they sink back just as quickly.

Disembodied voices, perpetually stuck in slow motion, hover around the dark lights that hide the drone and its shadows. You can feel the track rising, climbing up to an unstoppable point. Radio frequencies are ghosts themselves, with voices that have somehow crossed the void. And, outside, the leaves fade to black. It all ends here.

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