Stray Ghost ~ Those Who Know Darkness, See The Light

Those Who Know Darkness, See The Light, the new album by Anthony Saggers, the man behind Stray Ghost, begins with a glorious big bang of sound. “Migration-Refraction”, the album’s first track, resembles an explosion in slow motion, with its ambient noise coming in waves until the dust settles. A dancing piano takes the lead in “Aubade”, but the Stray Ghost is still out in space. A cello (?) will accompany the piano in its lonely dance, and the two of them will lead us out in the rain where “Lay Me Through the Cracks in the Storm” awaits us. Atmospheric synth waves hypnotize us, while the piano keeps dancing in the angry storm, a dance that becomes livelier by the minute, but has a hard time hiding its melancholy.

At times, the music of Stray Ghost seems to carry an enormous weight on its shoulders, and as the paths the artist takes become hazier, the emotions produced by the music intensify. The piano, which here evolves from being a mere instrument to a being with its own tortured personality, often takes the lead as in “Instructions on Clockwork Recollection” or “The Time Chasing Lost Daylight”, leading us through closed doors to realities we perhaps didn’t want to encounter. The imagination runs wild of course with this darkly beautiful music in the background. There are also times when the ghost appears to want to let itself go and turn into a beat, but it soon restrains itself (don’t we all?) keeping us at the edge of our seat, waiting for what will come next.

Saggers shares the ability of artists such as 36 to make music that feels like a newborn breaking out of its shell, in the sense that it seems to evolve gradually and morph into something lovely and melodic. At the same time, the music remains intelligent, nostalgic, and deeply emotional. While the second half of the album is somewhat underwhelming, the overall impression we are left with as listeners is that of an artist who has written a story worth hearing, a story that is sad on the surface, may not have a happy ending, but will make us lean our head on our pillow, or our back on the chair, and think of the world’s wonders. Not bad for a ghost. (John Kontos)

Available here

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