Guilty Ghosts, Veils

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Listening on:

A K-Mart brand MW-200 solid state transistorized cassette tape recorder. Though probably not intended primarily for home audio use, this deck has excellent playback quality and a surprisingly large mono speaker. It weighs more than the laptop I’m typing this on right now, and has an idiosyncratic old-school toggle control system. It feels like a cheap, wonderful old machine, which is exactly what it is.

The band:
Brooklyn’s Tristan O’Donnell creates his own brand of mostly instrumental, guitar-centric music under the name of Guilty Ghosts. GG’s first release came out on WORDS+DREAMS two years ago, so the release of Veils is a homecoming of sorts, not to mention his first full-length release.

The music:

With Veils, Guilty Ghosts showcases an inspired take on ambient guitar that doesn’t shy away from big “post-rock” inspired moments, but doesn’t ham them up or treat them as a default catharsis, either. The guitars (along with their grittier take on Explosions in the Sky style tones), penetrating beats, sparingly used vocals, and other samples are all placed on even footing and carefully dialed in to serve the song as a whole. It’s meticulous, dramatic music that’s as much about the tense, quiet stretches of Vini Reilly-esque arpeggios as it is about the bombastic Mogwai-minus-one-or-two-big-muff-pedals swells. It isn’t every artist who can sample thunder, without coming across as overblown. O’Donnell makes it seem natural, even necessary. License this stuff for the opening credits of the next film you direct and you won’t be sorry.

How it sounds:
Would definitely recommend at least one run on headphones for this one. Otherwise, I’d definitely recommend a decent stereo setup. The tape treats the tracks extremely well, but mono is taking it just a bit too far back into lo-fi to appreciate the album’s finer points.

The full package:

The “deluxe bundle” includes the tape itself, a sticker, and a CD wrapped up nicely in a soft cloth bag. The tape itself is a metallic red, which clashes nicely with its more passive packaging. Everything is extremely nicely printed, sized, and generally looks great. It even smells nice. Can’t explain that one, but it does.

“Everlasting Evening” (Feat. Sea Oleena) embodies Guilty Ghost’s sound on this album, then throws in vocals. Keeps you guessing all 7 minutes.

Opening track “The End of Akira” is notable both for being one of the shorter tracks on the tape and it’s straightforward elegance.

You can purchase Veils from WORDS+DREAMS and stream the album on Bandcamp.