My Great Ghost
Upon hearing the self-titled EP from the New York duo My Great Ghost, one might wish that they had either released it immediately after recording it this past winter, or held onto it until the days got a little darker. This is the music that will keep heads up during walks down rainy streets while the sun is setting. But no one wants to think about the setting sun in the middle of summer.
The craft of the music is excellent. The producer half of the duo, Trevor Gureckis, holds up his end with layer upon layer of keys, drums, and various other electronic sounds. His best quality is his restraint, he shows off an innate knowledge for when to stop building layers and let the song move forward. This restraint is immediately recognizable in the single from the EP, “Plain Sight.” The song starts off with some bass thumps and simple guitar. About 30 seconds in, singer Drew Smith joins in along with some background sounds, and by the 1:30 mark, the simplistic bass thumps have been built into a head-bobbing beat as multiple keyboard and synth loops kick in. Despite the multiple layers and consistent building, the song never feels over-burdened or clunky, and ends exactly when it needs to. This kind of efficiency is all over the album.
Gureckis and Smith have an interesting interplay. When Gureckis goes dark, Smith’s lyrics are uplifting and almost inspirational. Taking the aforementioned “Plain Sight” as an example, Smith sings in layers: “Hiding out, plain sight/no reaction to the rain./Spirited, loveless./Smile at your name. What about a change of pace/in your ways?/Take one different step/each day.” These lyrics float over music that is brooding and pensive, as if the subject that has created these thoughts has to talk him/herself out of malaise and melancholy. The song that follows, “Helicopter,” is a direct contrast. Gureckis creates a driving, march inspired beat, but Smith croons “No one cares for me/I keep no company/I have minimal needs/And now they are through with me/Now they are through with me.” Their mutual darkness comes out on “Means to an End,” however, as Gureckis channels his inner VNV Nation and Smith sings with a sinister calmness, “Death by fire, smoldering still/pales to the guilt you hold.”
My Great Ghost have a complex aesthetic. The stylized version of their name on the cover of this EP is reminiscent of the intricate designs that many black metal bands use when making logos, and while their music is not as abrasive as their black metal brethren, it does sometimes show the same kind of emotional depth. While the music at times is uplifting, groovy, and sexy, the darker elements of production and brooding lyrics stand out overall. My Great Ghost have released a very good EP. They just might have done so in the wrong season.