2011: A Space Odyssey
2011 seems to be a fine year for laptop jockeys, the lifeforce of tried and true synth-pop. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan and bandmate, Oliver Chapoy, return – as Warm Ghost – with Narrows, a journey into space, time and the everything neon in between.
Of course, such a journey should involve the ambient dreaminess of M83’s last 2 albums making its way into tracks like “I Will Return” and “Once One.” The duo seem to make their synths shine bigger and brighter without the overcompressed mess heard in most of today’s Casio rock.
Filling in as entertainment on this trip is the dance continuum, a theory proven when mixing glitchy blips and bloops with fat (um…PHAT) kicks with hearty claps. Although “Myths on Rotting Ships” and “Mariana” aren’t exactly floorshakers, they’re more than enough to be readily remixed and shipped off to the nearest Hype Machine near you.
Landing this ship is the height of Warm Ghost’s mastery as producers. “Splay of Road” and “An Absolute Light” are perfect examples of tracks reaching the climaxes where groups like Radiohead and Portishead don’t dare to go. A little ambient, a little post-rock, the last few minutes of Narrow prove that it doesn’t take 10 feather-covered foreigners (a la Sigur Rós and Arcade Fire) to get a big, grand sound.
In retrospect, the trip wasn’t the first half of Titanic, but neither was it Total Recall. Narrows managed to deliver the visceral goods enough to make the listener feel something other than utter kitsch. Honesty is key, and Warm Ghost is Abraham Lincoln.