Album Review: Ghost Bath - 'Moonlover'

4 March 2015 | 5:07 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A vast musical vista.

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Bathed in anonymity and intended musical secrecy, Ghost Bath's identity might be understated but their music is anything but reserved. A prominent, fundamental and incredibly key statement is quietly fashioned on the band's Facebook page:

"We have tried to keep our identity a secret in order to have a pure listening experience."

That's it in a perfect nutshell. New album 'Moonlover' is just that - concealed in mystery but one of the most sincere listening experiences you are likely to hear.

Noisey posed the question whether this band is China's answer to Deafheaven, and it's a fair query. The similarities are apparent and the impact matching. However, in the same way as the brilliant 'Sunbather' stood in perfect exclusivity, 'Moonlover' is an album deserving of regard on its own merits.

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Let's make the precise point, this is seven tracks that are required to be listened to front-to-back in complete and undisturbed order. It's an album not a collection of isolated singles.

'The Sleeping Fields' is the mandatory instrumental and atmospheric opener - an invitation to what will proceed, nothing more, nothing less.

'Golden Number' is stunning and striking. Beautiful and rich guitar tones are at the forefront, with the raspy black metal inspired vocals providing the texture instead of the other way around. For an album with the strong aforementioned black metal influence, the production is surprisingly (and thankfully) clean and polished. The significant moment is before the two minute mark where the lead guitar commands the listener in triumphant and uplifting force. Like our local boys Ne Obliviscaris, Ghost Bath have the ability to condense differing moments and styles into one coherent track. The piano at the tail-end simply seals the deal here.

Musically, this is a cascading journey through competing aural soundscapes. In parts depressing and bleak and in contrasting moments optimistic and buoyant, 'Moonlover' fits just about any mood.

'Happyhouse' is a contradiction. "Happy"?! Whatever relevant antonym best fits, this is better described as melancholic and filled with bitter emotion. It's slower in delivery and works as a perfect contrast, which gives way to mid-way interlude 'Beneath The Shade Tree'.

'The Silver Flower Part 1' is again slow and distant, and just when you think the sum of its overall parts have forced this record to collapse upon itself, 'The Silver Flower Part 2' picks things up with more imposing elements.

'Death and the Maiden' is a pillar track. Like 'Golden Number' at the beginning, this is the album's final assertive point. Both menacing and controlled. It's the fitting full stop.

The musical pallet is supported by a dark and sombre outlook but the reception is one of overwhelming joy. 'Moonlover' is reflective and exposed, grim yet never insistent and delivered with such dynamic purpose. Yep, this is an album worthy of lengthy praise.

'Moonlover' transitions from unassuming to grand in the space of seven well-placed and equally well-crafted tracks. "Depressive black metal" has never had such a positive and pleasing disposition.

1. The Sleeping Fields

2. Golden Number

3. Happyhouse

4. Beneath the Shade Tree

5. The Silver Flower Pt. 1

6. The Silver Flower pt. 2

7. Death and the Maiden