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teamghost rituals
Artist: Team Ghost
Title: Rituals
Genre: Cold-Gaze / Space-Rock
Release Date: 15th March 2013
Label: w-Sphere

Album Review

When Nicolas Fromageau left critically acclaimed French band M83 in 2004, his aim was, in his own words, “to create a new sound, I didn't wanna do another M83”. And so, TEAM GHOST was born, a band the NME described as cold-gaze, merging a love of cold-wave bands and music with the relatively recent resurgence of 90's phenomena shoe-gaze. Layered guitars with masses of reverb, loud instrumental passages and vocals often soft, and low in the mix, it was, and indeed still is, a genre perfected by MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Two TEAM GHOST EP's released in 2010, while solid enough, were actually far closer to the M83 sound Mr Fromageau was trying to leave behind, not so much a new start, as an extension of previous efforts. The release of debut album 'Rituals' later this month, was preceeded by two further EP's (‘Dead Film Star EP’ released 3rd Dec 2012 and ‘Curtains EP’ released 25th Feb 2013) and both songs are included on this record as well.

The album begins with the progressive-rock symphony 'Away', a slowly swelling and gentle intro reminiscent of some long-lost film score, or a TANGERINE DREAM mood-piece. Largely instrumental, after a while it settles into a busy shuffle before descending into the kind of discordant guitar storm more usually associated with shoe-gaze. And then, having made its point, things return to the same simplicity and calm that was there in the beginning. It's an attention grabbing opener, a number of ideas and styles crammed into one movement. Second single 'Curtains', released in February, is next up and is a real belter. Unusually structured for something in the single format, the vocals start immediately and the guitar driven verses are urgent and pacey. Layered and distorted guitars with furious percussion make up what counts as a chorus, and from sounding vaguely like an angry PORCUPINE TREE, by the end it is more THE DOORS jamming enthusiastically with THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN. As a single, and gateway into the album, it succeeds perfectly.

A pity then that 'Somebody's Watching' follows it. The weedy and twee vocals here really grate, and nothing sounds further from the truth when the line “somebody's watching, it turns me on” is sung. It definitely wants to wallow in sleaziness, but ends up being neither sexy nor seductive enough. The contrived shoehorning of “fucking” into the whole, smacks of almost juvenile self-satisfaction. One suspects it's meant to be conjuring up the dark side of Parisian nightlife, but it ends up being more a bit of perving behind the bike-sheds. Things are rescued by 'Dead Film Star', which was released as a single back in December 2012. It starts with a prominent bubble of bass and a wash of synths, and the vocals this time are stronger, more forceful. Keeping things edgy and interesting is a beat that is constantly doing the unexpected, and it makes for an original and lively three and a half minutes, surely the perfect length for any great single.

By 'Things Are Sometimes Tragic' we're back on shaky ground. Starting off like VANGELIS and then straying into ULVER territory, more and more layers are added (is that a xylophone in there?). It's almost too busy and claustrophobic, there is a feeling it could collapse under its own weight. Which might actually be better than the ending we are given which fizzles out and fades. It all feels a bit pointless. There are poignant moments and melancholy to spare at various times throughout 'Rituals' such as on the lovely, lazy vocal on the dreamlike 'Broken Devices' with its hushed refrain of 'What did we do wrong?'. A stately sadness also pervades the first half of the piano led 'All We Left Behind', before it explodes into life with washes of guitar reverb and frantic drumming.

But there are also inconsistencies, where the weight of influences and the amount of ideas seem crammed too haphazardly together. 'Fireworks', like a number of tracks here, is largely instrumental, and when the vocals do come, it's almost too little, too late. With MY BLOODY VALENTINE for example, the buried vocals carried superb melodies, pop songs well-crafted and deliberately sunk beneath the noise, but here the lazy singing can be infuriating, and the melodies just not strong enough. On Montreuil, they are so low in the mix as to be superfluous, more an irritation than an addition of anything. The album does end well, though. Penultimate song 'Team Ghost' has a brooding, creeping menace, and a pace that maintains the tension and the feeling of something sinister, just out of view. Its huge, distorted and discordant crescendo is one of the highpoints of the album, and it would have been a fitting closer. Instead, 'We Won’t Fall' ends proceedings. A wintery, melancholic song, it's like gazing through a frosty window at a slow and steady snowfall.

On the whole, this is a good album. Nothing quite matches the instant appeal of the two singles, which perhaps would have benefited from being further apart on the track listing. And the slavish adherence to genre rules, especially around the vocals, render it frustrating at times. But there is enough here to rescue it, and the sheer, raw power exhibited in some songs sits comfortably with the prettiness and atmospherics of others.


01. Away
02. Curtains
03. Somebody's Watching
04. Dead Film Star
05. Things Are Sometimes Tragic
06. Broken Devices
07. All We Left Behind
08. Fireworks
09. Montreuil
10. Pleasure That Hurts
11. Team Ghost
12. We Won’t Fail


Nicolas Fromageau – vocals and guitar
Christophe Guerrin – vocals and guitar
Benoit de Villeneuve – vocals, guitar and keyboards
Pierre Blanc – Bass
Felix Delacroix – Drums


Cover Picture

teamghost rituals


Music: 7
Sound: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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