Album Review – Phantom Vision – Ghosts (2016)

Availability: Spotify, Bandcamp (COP International), YouTube (full stream), and Discogs

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Eternal is a short prelude collaborating drone, industrial and distorted acoustics with a slumbered self-duet between the vocalist Pedro Morcego, manipulating his voice to hit different notes, one baritone-bass, the other tenor.  There are mild influences from the German darkwave band Sopor Aeternus (Enteral Sleep) and the Ensemble of Shadows, formed by Anna-Varney Cantonea in 1989; essentially due to the slow, melodic and quivering, eerie way Morcego carries his voice. Eternal is disrupted deliberately to start Far Enough, which presents goth rock, and a more fast paced electronic genre, synth and dark-electro, but the saddened tone isn’t abandoned, in fact, it seems to be a deliberate means to emphasis the dark narrative by using an enthusiastic tone.

Behind the scenes takes shape into another synthwave-dark-electro combined track, this time with less inclination towards goth rock, but post-punk; demonstrating inspiration from Depeche Code, and New Order (founded by former members of British post-punk band Joy Division, one of the early noted inspirations of goth rock, after Ian Curtis’ passing in 1980, and after the release of the second and final album Closer).  Once again, Pedo Morcego performs another self-duet with himself, Fairy Tales and Broken Dreams still carries an new wave tone, however reverts back to the goth rock sound, specifically the sound of the likes of The Mission (UK), Gene Loves Jezebel, and House of Usher for the lighter inflection, embodying more a ‘dark alternative ‘demonstration, for dark alternative is not as mournful or distorted as goth rock.

Human melds neoclassical, ethereal wave, Goth rock and dark cabaret genres to aurally illustrate a dark narrative of human nature, once again touching on the distinct sound of Enteral Sleep and the Ensemble of Shadows, the usage of sorrowful lyrics. Dead as Ice rematerializes back into the post-punk, synthwave and goth rock, with there being a clever inclusion of the beat and musical tone of Danny Elfman’s ‘This is Halloween’ from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1994), some parts of the verses recreating the tune This is Halloween, this is Halloween.  I actually noticed this similarity in Behind the scenes also.  Naked Machine is stripped of any post-punk/goth rock rudiments, and is instead very full on new/synthwave, lo-fi and alternative rock, with spoken word styled lyrical content, similar to Siouxsie and the Banshee’s The Double Life from The Peepshow (1988).

No Limits, once more carries on the synthwave foundations, and syndicates goth rock and industrial back into the mix. This track is markedly more playful and lighthearted than the previous tracks; appearing to have more a rock’n’roll accent, conducting the spirit of The Rolling Stones.  Right City, Wrong Time resurrects the dark-electro, possibly Goa trance and goth rock union, experimenting again with dark cabaret and vaudeville to compliment the darker qualities of the lyrical storytelling.  I will identify some inspiration from The Rocky Horror Show, as parts of the delivery integrate parts of Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite, especially for the similar themes of time.

Millionaire conceptual is full on punk, musically and in finished production due to the shortened time. Proto-punk and punk usually remain within a two-three minute mark and nothing beyond, so the songs are aggressive and fast-paced. However, in comparison to the conception of punk, what differs from that genre and post-punk is that the successor is far more polished, drawing back inspiration from the likes of psychedelic and progressive rock, which punk was trying to distance itself from, and post-punk and its sub-genres eventually re-embraced.  Telling Lies comes back full swing into goth rock/synthwave and dark cabaret mode, with interesting usage of progressive rock as well as alternative rock guitar licks.

Glory to the Will is a creation of neoclassical darkwave, second generation goth rock, and alternative rock, and is itself borderline a power ballad for the slow, melodic direction. Though of different genres (but do indeed share derivative origins), in this case using art rock, Glory to the Will in a way bears a resemblance to the pattern of Peter Gabriel’s Secret World, from the album Us (1992). A State of Mind has a rumbling undercurrent of neoclassical darkwave, which is topped over with goth rock and like the previous track recommences the melodious power ballad style, and is quite mellowed in comparison to the tracks.

Orion has the return of the spoken-word, and a synthesis of goth rock, synthwave and post-punk with mild ripples of dark alternative and ethereal wave. The formation of this track is both complex and simplistic all in one go, for the lyrical content is minimalist. Modern Times the last track of the album, sucks out all acknowledge of goth/post-punk to solely focus on the electronic side; a beautiful mixture of glitch, IDM, and synthwave, which not only pays tribute to the New Romanticism era but also touches on the importance of IDM and EBM has come to be in modern music, and the evolution of the alternative subcultures (rivetheads, and cyberpunks).

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