cauldron / canyon. These are two words that spring to mind when I listen to “Ghosts”, the first album by Grisha Shakhnes for his own label Disappearing Records: the first because of the music’s mysterious hubble and bubble, its thick simmering aural soup; the second because of its engulfing depth and geological rumble, gusts of wind funnelled down a winding ravine.
But the title of the album bears thinking about, because this is perhaps the most ephemeral and fleeting Shakhnes release I’ve heard. Sounds clatter by in a steady stream, with only hints of gleam sometimes breaking the surface: chirping birds, smeared and fuzzy traces of pitched tone, a piano melody rising out of the ether caked in dust. Shakhnes is like an archaeologist patiently unearthing forgotten relics of sound, their original purpose and context both inviting and resisting speculation. Or like an alchemist forming gold from old tapes foaming in a cauldron of acid.
Still, there’s a quietness or a blankness to all this foaming that suggests a mind completely absorbed in a task, deeply attentive to every timbre of grain and harmonic of transformer hum. And I find myself absorbed too, as the clamouring in my brain is slowly replaced by the hiss of magnetic filings and the whirring of machines. Climbing down into a canyon of echoing silence.