Team Ghost Serves Up A Synth-Laden Demon
The cover of Team Ghost’s latest release, a self-titled LP, shows a cartoon face with cherry red lips emerging from a computerized space, whispering into a human ear. It gives the impression that some divine message is being relayed, from an electronic, omniscient source. In many ways, the image prefigures what’s attempted by the album’s 10 songs—a sort of grandiose didacticism, built upon layers of driving synthesizers and crashing, measured percussion. And over the course of 48 minutes, the unrelenting extravagance of it all takes a toll.
The album features two different voices, which function as indirect interlocutors in a conversation between what seems to be man and machine. One proselytizes and intones in a flat auto-tune, while the other is angst ridden and masculine. Both sing in an English heavily accented by French. The album begins with “The Riser,” a treatise by the former, electronically enhanced voice. Over a dramatic, synth laden beat, it proclaims that, “There’s a brand new world growing around us / What used to be lost will be the new rules / It’s time to wonder, give the best of us / Open up your eyes—we are free at last.” We’re introduced to the human voice in the following song called “Sparkles”, an open-hearted, aspirational number which opens with the lines “Dreaming of tomorrow / Dream of a new land.” Vocal duties are typically split from track to track, but on some songs, like “This Elegy,” they perform together to form a more coherent dialogue. It’s during these tracks that Team Ghost is at their best, solidifying their message rather than deferring to blustery synths to evoke a sense of the profound.
Team Ghost is the 3rd album to emerge from the french duo since founder Nicolas Fromageau split from M83 in 2004. There was a moment where his departure seemed unwise—M83 had just struck critical gold with Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, and almost as soon as the accolades began to descend he left to form a new project. While some may still find the decision to leave questionable, Fromageau has never looked back, confidently distilling the elegiac energy he brought to M83 in Team Ghost. This latest LP demonstrates his commitment to that vision.