ghost, don’t scream

December 8th, 2020

Had it been released earlier at various times, Ghost, Don’t Scream would probably have appeared on Broadcasts from Elsewhere, certainly The Outcast on the Ivories, and possibly even Transmissions, three mixes I’ve posted here in the past; but then I suppose I wouldn’t be able to see its unique place at the exact center of whose collective cloud of thematic and atmospheric essence. For the virtuosic (Lithuanian?) artist Martin Rach pulls from all directions to produce the sparse soundscapes that comprise his newest release: various schools of classical piano or amorphous improvisation, the quiet violence within the “spluttering and bubbling, jerking and rasping, whistling and screaming”¹ howls of radio static, the jarring tonal agility and piercing textures of circuit bending, and various other little things that go bump in the night. On first listen, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the interplay between the grandness of the piano and the minuscule grasping claws of the electronics as “First Apparition” began, but I was immediately sold about six minutes of the way through when the desperate, sterile wail of a rewired audio wire half-harmonizes and descends with the keys—a truly spectacular and memorable moment. To be honest, I’m not sure I get a “ghost” vibe from this, at least not directly; to me it sounds more like the paranoid half-knowledge of something beyond our field of view and experience but not quite being able to grasp it, forever living in obsessive fear. Or maybe that’s just me, because there’s a lot of other narratives one could ascribe—a lone concert pianist playing a final concerto to nobody in a world ravaged by technological apocalypse, a forgotten service robot trying to make music by rearranging its hardware along to a dusty recording it found on the ground. What I really mean is that Ghost, Don’t Scream is lonely, but it isn’t scary, even if you’re scared of loneliness (I certainly am, to an extent), because the sadness with which this soundtrack to humbling isolation is saturated is nothing except beautiful.

¹ Eula Biss, “Time and Distance Overcome”

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