Review Summary: An incredible collection of beats that is not to be missed out on.
This first full-length is a peculiar one. It’s a concept album of sorts, the concept here being friendship. Each of the fifty tracks is dedicated to a person, some to the same one. Those people are anyone who liked the status of the artist and they have all received personal dedications in this record as a result of their support for Ghastly. It’s an interesting premise that doesn’t say anything about the music itself, however it’s a cool idea overall and a unique way to involve fans, friends, and family in the production of music.
The music is remarkable in its own right, the album as a whole, being a Donuts-esque mix of fifty beats that never hit the minute mark until the last track. It is a huge departure from ‘Forest Temples’, which featured eight tracks that averaged around the two-and-a-half minute mark. I was amazed by the fact that ‘FRND SHPS’ only runs just two minutes more than ‘Forest Temples’, and still Ghastly’s first full-length manages to do more musically and rhythmically than the debut EP.
With such a massive amount of content, any listener would expect to hear some filler, however everything on this record fits right in. There was never a moment I felt bored or uninterested in what I was hearing. Every track does something different with Ghastly’s signature combination of soft melodies and well-crafted beats.
Production here is another high point for this record. I have had the pleasure of hearing O’Rourke progress as a recording artist over the years and I do not believe he has ever been in better form. The FlyLo influence is still pretty clear, however O’Rourke is beginning to make distinctions that are bringing him towards a more unique and original style of production.
‘FRND SHPS’ is also a lot heavier on the sampling than ‘Forest Temples’ (not that FT was without them). The ‘Legend of Zelda’ samples are more prominent than ever in a slew of Nintendo focused game samples, while also featuring the opening of Cartoon Network’s ‘Regular Show’ and other references. It was a refreshing return to form for that feels a bit more in the vain of Ghastly’s sister project, Horologue, which I see as a great change for this project. After all, that’s where this record derives a lot of its charm from.
Since he began recording as Horologue nearly five years ago, Austin O’Rourke has made powerful strides as a musical artist and as his experience allows him to put out a more prolific output, he could eventually become one of the leading figures in the electronic music scene, if not, at least in the underground. ‘FRND SHPS’ is an incredible record that successfully becomes just what it set out to be in only twenty four minutes. This release most assuredly has Ghastly/Horologue/O’Rourke poised for greatness -- and the best has yet to come.