European Ghost – “Pale & Sick” album review


I am sure that many of you still don’t know about European Ghost, and neither did I until recently. But it is time to introduce you to this great project from Bologna, Italy.

Their first LP Pale & Sick was released on the 6th of May 2016 by Unknown Pleasures Records. As they state, it is “a concept album: a flight OVER the European remains from the TWO WORLD WARS”.

But to exclude myself from any influence coming from their own thoughts about the album, I really want to dig into it on my own. It is definitely a multi-layered album, consisting of 10 marvellous pieces that shape one single voyage into their sound and feel. They play with cold-wave/dark-wave/post-punk and electronic influences, but I must admit, I rarely hear music like this these days. In a time when we consume and are being consumed, fast and mercilessly, there is indeed a time to stop and meditate upon such a piece of art as this one is.

Not holding anything back, European Ghost are not afraid to express themselves in the way they feel about the world and appear like a breeze of the fresh air in this cramped space called the world.

Musically they do rely on some influences, but rather as a great mixture of them; and they surely managed to create something unique here. On the first listening, they are not so easy going; they do not greet you friendly. Instead you really need to listen to each track carefully, as they do carry the message that will become loud and clear only to those prepared to give in to their tales. pale&sick

Trip On Mars” is such a mesmerizing number, it got to the bottom of me very fast; I like the atmosphere created here, light and ambiental, yet heavy in melody and vocals. The vocal here has the task of bringing in that dark element as the track itself is utterly atmospheric and floating.

With “Preset” they bring in more of the post punk and dark wave vibe. The bass and guitar lines guide you through the track that would again not be so darkly painted, but again, the darkness appears with the vocals and the combination works out brilliantly. “Pale And Sick” turns more to the electronic sound, but leaving that post punk vibe; they go more experimental here, more daring, more concrete, more solid. So far I have reached the forth one that I consider the most complex until now. There is really a lot to reveal while listening to “Lost Highway” as different elements intertwine here. Synth sounds as church organs at times but plays so well with the guitar, and the mystical and creepy vocal plays the role of its own; the atmosphere created here is rather a bizarre one but again even if it gives you some goose bumps, it is a dancy one. They go more into dark wave direction with “Unreal Space” and what I clearly notice by now is the way this band wonderfully merges bass, synths, guitar and the vocals into one perfect package.

They keep their course on the second half of the album, and if I have to single out some tracks there, “Sex In Kepler” is the one to pay attention to. Their greatest experimentation is however “Trip in the Night” where they play with minimalistic electro expression to create unusual melodic patterns, with the feeling of decomposition.

They close with “European Ghost” that is again a rather experimental one, building the idea around a repetitive phrase. Again somewhat coldish and minimalistic electro sound is delivering the idea and the vocal part is presented more in a speaking manner, bringing a lot of attitude to the musical core that develops from the repetition. With the last two tracks, they really show us how wide their horizons are, so pay attention to this name, as you surely will not forget it easily.