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Ghost Culture
Ghost Culture Ian Wade , January 12th, 2015 17:37

Ghost Culture - or to give him his birth name, James Greenwood - has been knocking about for a couple of years with a handful of singles, gradually encouraging waifs and strays like a Pied Piper parpling a mawonng wheeze from some long cherished vintage equipment; and now it's 2015 he's serving notice of his bid for immortality.

Ghost Culture excels in atmosphere and layering, rather than heading direct for the doof. That's not to say there's nothing to dance to; it's like some sumptuous buffet of electronic wonder - minimalist techno, kraut, ambient house, full on electro. You feel you know something or half recognise a fraction or mood. Like a secret shared by only the listener, like sensual caress and warm whispers and a tune that sounds both familiar yet reformed into new shapes. Ghost Culture is well aware that everything has already come before, but not in an irritating "DO YOU SEE?" way.

Also, it's not some academic exercise either, tracks like 'Giudecca' and 'Arms' sound like million selling pop numbers to these ears, from back when such things used to be an everyday occurance rather than epic fruitless struggle in the margins. Even the sleeve nods (deliberately? unconsciously?) to Japan's Assemblage cover. Effeminate, icy futurism and ominous shadowing.

What makes this even more joyous as a thing, is that it appears on Erol Alkan's Phantasy label, which has long been a touchstone for high quality, with labelmates such as Daniel Avery, Connan Mockasin and Tom Rowlands, all of whom who operate in a chiefly electronic arena.

But that's where the comparisons begin and end. Managing to make the sounds you've heard millions of times from history, sound fresh and new. This isn't some retro Jack White analogue borefest, this is a snatch of the beauty that remains in the wheezing and dying lights.

'Mouth' sounds like New Order collaborating with Electribe 101, all weightless bounce and fragments of undiscovered dimensions; 'Answer' is just euphoric and intense - like a runaway train through some of the most exciting presets known to humans. 'Glaciers' sounds like a dissolving swing from a hungover android; a cyberblues to dance away the bloodstains and oil. 'How' sounds as intimate as you could imagine a glass against the wall seduction to be.

There's such a beautiful combination of elegance and exploration in this debut - Greenwood has created one of the best and most confident debuts in years, and you'd do well to bend your ears around it's intricate and delightfully planned out wonder. Ghost Culture is everything anyone who'd been seduced by the singles could hope for. A cracking way to start the year, and hopefully there'll be more accolades to come by the end of it.