Like a lingering cloud of black smoke, Ghosts slowly unfurls. Trailing its tendrils of sombre longing behind it, the ominous apparition appears as soon as the listener hits the play button. Darkly beautiful, and yet suffused, at first, with a choking cloud of dread that easily, and stealthily, wraps the listener up in a suffocating stronghold, Ghosts is the border crossing between reality and the imaginary.
Inspired by and dedicated to the pristine country of New Zealand, Ghosts is a wonderful ambient record that somehow manages to both seduce and alert the listener. And despite its faded coloring, it’s lush music. Quietly, and yet with great potency, Jeff Stonehouse, who once upon a time recorded music under the alias of Listening Mirror, ushers out his meditative, melancholic drones. Ghosts is just over 20 minutes, but that’s long enough to turn the pale sun into a chilly, forgotten orb. This isn’t a scary place to be, nor is it something to be worried about; que sera sera. It’s some of the finest ambient music you’ll hear. Piano chords are left to hang in the air. The drone is occasionally eerie, and that subtle, approaching dread returns. The mood is trapped in the headlights, like a vampire who can’t escape a room in which daybreak is imminent.
The drones are hooded and cloaked. The days on the bright beach have temporarily come to an end, and the clear-colored water, usually such a placid retreat, conceals a row of sharp jaws that lurk just under the water. They’re the memories, and they’re more than ready to take a bite. The drones are quite dark, and they’re all the more evocative for their darkness. The music travels through the damp caverns of reverb, and lost echoes rebound in the dank air. A darkly green light, like that of a dull crystal, shines its prism of light from within the cave. It does brighten a little – the birds chime and the forests gleam as a sliver of faint light passes through the trees, but this is darkly tainted, too. Black sands, the shrouded figure and the natural, untouched beauty of New Zealand await. In this dream, the sand still burns the soles of the feet. It is haunting. (James Catchpole)