Now this is a band who has their shit together for a self-released debut. They got a logo, a professional looking website, even an animated music video. Their online presence is fantastic for a band this young. One of them just might be a web developer, or they get enough from their day jobs to have hired a good one. They have a whole slew of merch available for their new album, including panties.1 Sure, the name Ghost:Hello is kind of stupid (I keep imagining a sheet-with-holes ghost going “HellooOOoooOOooo!”) but when did a silly name ever stop an eager young band? The fact is, the packaging on this self-proclaimed darkwave/stoner mashup is excellent. Now wouldn’t it be a shame if the contents just outright sucked? Man, that would be a bummer, wouldn’t it? All this effort for a nice wrapper and nothing to put it around. That would absolutely be a major disappointment. Yes sir, I truly hope this is going to be a great album to make it all worthwhile.
It’s not. It sucks. Sorry to disappoint. But I’ll start with what the band does well. I love the idea of combining stoner with darkwave. Even though I’m not a particularly large fan of darkwave or electronic music in general, I can totally see the brooding minor-key synths of darkwave meshing with some trance-inducing stoner. The band largely fails at that, but their idea absolutely has merit. There’s a part in “The Mouth of the Gift Horse” where it almost works. The latter half of the album is less offensive than the first, and contains a few pretty spiffy stoner riffs, which help avoid Sound of Color in Space from being a complete loss.
But fuck me sideways, as much polish as their marketing campaign gets, so little does the music. The first half of the album sounds like half-finished garage experiments thrown onto a playlist. There’s an entire 5 minute song that’s just undulating electronics plastered with sound samples! And the next song after that sounds like a drunken hobo singing the blues with some hand percussion under a broken tube light! Every song, the band seems hell-bent on annoying me for at least a portion of the track, usually through vocals like the constant falsetto repetition of ‘I’m perfect in all ways, all ways’ on “Perfect” to the distorted alien vocoder garbage on “Burnout” or the hysterical swerving vocal stylings of “Spit of Stars.” But some of the electronic elements, like the appalling slide whistle-like tinnitus on “Fingerstache” can be just as bad, and ending with nothing but the sloppy aimless drumming does that track no good either. Any goodwill the record builds up with the occasional good riff, like the latter half of “Burnout,” instantly goes out the door with these neckhair-raising concepts.
On top of that, the record sounds like garbage too. As if to prove that DR isn’t everything, and can in fact be grossly misleading, Sound sounds weirdly compressed. The guitar has a poorly implemented fuzz, that sounds more like the amp got fried with a cattle prod than anything that was done on purpose. The mixing is weirdly uneven, and often what sounds like should be receiving the focus is not in the foreground. The electronics are as a rule exceptionally poorly integrated into the music and commonly sound like either an afterthought or something injected into the songs. The drums, however, receive the worst treatment, in the most baffling example of cardboard kit I have heard in some time.
Let me reiterate exactly how terrible this album is. I often listen to my promos riding my bicycle to and from work. As I was spinning this during my morning commute, I was so appalled by what I was hearing, I was already preparing statements in my head on how to list its many flaws. It distracted me so much that I missed an oncoming moped as I made a turn. Though I righted myself in time to prevent a head-on collision, our handlebars collided, my front wheel got bent out of shape, and now my bike is at the scrap heap. So there you have it. Ghost:Hello’s debut Sound of Color in Space is so bad it got me into a traffic accident and cost me my bike. If that’s not the best warning I can give to stay away from this, I don’t know what is.