Ghost Heart

The Tunnel

Written by: PP on 05/09/2011 21:27:17

I'll readily admit that I'm far outside my comfort zone when it comes to reviewing Grand Rapids, Michigan's Ghost Heart, but their debut album "The Tunnel" has convinced me enough to break down the metaphorical genre boundaries and inspect an indie rock release for once. Or "percussion heavy indie rock", as the band itself describes their sound, an accurate description considering their repertoire consists of two drummers plus drum machines, nose samplers, timpani drums, tambourines, and even a bicycle wheel (at least when performing live) aside from the traditional instruments.

Now with two drummers you might imagine a heavier and rhythmic sound like that of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, but while it is true that Ghost Heart's drum base is heavier and more complex than you're used to within indie rock, their music has far more in common with bands like Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear. We're talking about soft, carefully constructed melodies that sound thoughtful and introspective while they float around lightly in the soundscapes. The moods and melodies are meticulously developed through peculiar percussion that sometimes reaches into tribal sounds, but the music overall is led by two high-pitched vocalists whose dreamy wails are often prolonged and kind of whiny, but fitting on top of the soundscapes. This results in a similar light and uplifting mood as those by Vampire Weekend, while the electronic sampling and laid-back guitars suggest that the experimental material by Portugal. The Man has been an inspiration at least at some point during Ghost Heart's career.

Usually when you couple the above with lengthy, five-minute plus song structures is enough to put me to sleep, but Ghost Heart keep their sound engaging and convincing throughout the album. They do it by varying the volume of their drumming, which sometimes fades silently to the background, only to return with a bombastic feel that takes over the sound, and through an excellent vocalist whose wailing requires some effort in getting used to, but once you do, his floaty melodies and quite enjoyable and even memorable in the end. Just see "Wilderness" or "Phantom Harmony" for two good examples. I'm also told that if you like Animal Collective, Ghost Heart is the band for you, and while I can't verify that claim having never checked out AC, this record has potential to be a hit in the indie rock crowd.

Download: Phantom Harmony, Wilderness
For the fans of: Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear
Listen: Myspace

Release date 29.01.2011
Friction Records

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