Review Summary: “You’re an Astronaut, God,” decried three blokes from Ireland. “I’m a what!?” replied God.
You’d think he would’ve got the message by now, wouldn’t you? Alas, no. After almost two decades and nine full-length releases, determined post-rock three-piece God Is An Astronaut continue to move heaven and earth via an almighty clamouring of crescendos in an attempt to convey their rather simple message to the man upstairs.
Ghost Tapes #10
is their latest straightforward, no nonsense slowburner which -- despite all its many bells, whistles and other rather flashy features -- sounds strikingly similar to all the other straightforward, no nonsense slowburners that constitute their now straightforward, no nonsense discography. Yes, yes, I know -- the "post-rock is dead" line of criticism has become a cloying cliché, so much so that expounding upon the clichéd nature of said cliché can itself feel clichéd by proxy -- but, despite its obviousness, the point still stands: for all of Ghost Tapes #10’s
, there's very little about the trio’s latest take on the creatively-bereft build-and-release
formula to justify listening to it over the dozens of superior records that do exactly the same thing.
To avoid underselling Ghost Tapes #10
, let me start over. The LP's second track, "Burial", is phenomenal
. Lushous piano keys lay the foundation, shortly trampled underfoot by the distorted chugging that inevitably follows, joined swiftly thereafter by a joyous barrage of reverb-laden guitar melodies and the occasional synthetic flourish. It is, I shit you not, quite good. So too are “Adrift” and “In Flux”, the former kicking the record off with booming, dissonant riffage that crumbles into spaced-out ambience, whilst the latter shifts things up yet another gear into one of the most violently invigorating musical movements the band have pulled off to date. Why then, when all the usual post-rockian boxes appear to be ticked, does Ghost Tapes #10
feel quite so hollow (hint: see para 2)? That's right! Simply put, we've heard it all before.
The ground Ghost Tapes #10
retreads is so
well-trodden at this point ('keep off the grass' signs clearly unheeded) so as to have become a boggy mess, sucking the life and colour out of the compositions of those who dare to venture in its general direction. Niels, Torsten and Lloyd wade their way through the muck on cuts like "Fade" and "Barren Trees" to no avail, the resultant tracks feeling absent of life and devoid of character as they rehash tired genre trope after tired genre trope. To outright dismiss it as colour-by-numbers instrumental tosh would probably be a touch too harsh, but not entirely unfair, given how often Ghost Tapes #10
feels like a slightly
more concise and slightly
less interesting reimagining of their earlier, better works. The urgency and graceful simplicity of their self-titled LP and the much revered All Is Violent, All Is Bright
is simply absent from their latest odyssey, and whilst nothing about Ghost Tapes #10
is inherently bad
, achieving the less-than-lofty status of okay
in a genre as bloated as theirs' simply doesn't cut the mustard anymore.
If you adore kinda
riff-y instrumental rock, then you may well adore Ghost Tapes #10
. Clocking in at a lean 37 minutes, it’s by no means an unreasonable drain on one's time, particularly when compared to what the genre can typically demand of its listeners (yes I’m looking at you, Godspeed
, please put down your skinny fists). If, however, both Epitaph
and Helios / Erebus
failed to rekindle your passion for the trio’s particular take on cacophonic climaxes, then perhaps stick with their 2005 opus. God may still be an astronaut, but it’s about time he found some new realms to explore.