The eerie “Ghost” is where LUNE‘s EP of the same name begins. The EP is the first release from the Melbourne based band, pulling in singles ‘of “Ghost”, “Manipulator”, and “Mirror Image” to complete the five tracks of Ghost. Though the EP released last month, it’s been sitting patiently in my ‘to review’ list, and I’ve finally made it back here after overcoming a long line of hurdles both personal and COVID-19 related.
But where were we.. “Ghost”. Dark and unsettling, the title track virtually encases the listener and screams at them while they anxiously look for escape. It’s only the levitating lightness of the choruses that offer a reprieve from the intensity of the fierce and instrumentally complex pressure that abounds and surrounds.
The many layers of voices of “Ghost” are menacing, as are the in-your-face rhythms. Surrounded and pressured, we drop into cavernous disconnect (complete with an eerie melody), and the song’s end is pixel-tinted satisfaction in a way, yet not really feeling resolved at all. I wrote more about “Ghost” when it was released as a single, for the interested.
More energetic at Ghost‘s second track, “Misery Dialogue” leaps and thrashes with hair-pulling frustration. Tasty guitar tones are highly distracting from whatever is going on with the thematic core of the song, and deftly pulls this listener along their warp speed light beams while angstful lines continue to blanket the active landscape. The resulting sound feels like something urgent and also unchangeable, where frustrations with one’s life are confronting, but it seems like there’s no time to do anything different.
The choral-esque rain of the “Don’t move, don’t speak..” song section and all of its layers of sound is wordlessly satisfying, and to have this then extend into the chorus just adds to the beauty of this beast.
Dropping into a high-alarm hype of the song’s second verse should probably be tugging at my empathic sense of anxiety, but it’s just executed so well that it’s a damn good time. The darkened voices and sense of sinking into something more monotone is sobering though.. until the shiny angelic moment with its trap-esque beat arrives. Give me more creative quirks like this in heavy music, please. I’m here for it.
Dark (self-?)sentiments wrapped up in a sweetened melody somehow doesn’t detract from the instrumental forces they come with, and the full-bodied track is already something I want to listen to again and again.
“Manipulator” follows, and there’s a sense that the songs so far could all be one long song, so for a moment I wonder about memorability. Nonetheless, the stomping and blunt “Manipulator” is in my face with its staticky vocals, rich tones, and bewitching calls for focus. Is it just me or do the soaring and ethereal moments keep standing out as wowingly stunning? Or am I just putty to the playing with contrasts that LUNE seem to have a penchant for?
Dark and virtually possessed, the eerie tune is satisfyingly full, with drums a standout. It’s a rough ride of ‘Where to look/listen?’ for me when there’s raining heaviness, looped synthy melody, and … trumpets? The song suddenly seems to have shed its casual disguise as ‘just another heavy song’ to something that’s been carefully moulded and orchestrated with a variety of mediums. At roughly two minutes in, there’s already a ridiculous amount of things going on in this song and for this reason, it practically demands attentive focus and relistens.
Clearly about unhealthy connections with family members, the punishing “Manipulator” comes with serrated lyrics and drumming that veers from casual to pummelling. Paring back at its end, the punch of separation comes with the raw delivery of “You will never be my family”, as well as the careening downward spiral of finality that’s shared via a breakdown.
Onward to “Modern Bones”, the penultimate song’s riff waves urge forward with unrelenting pressure and strength. While it’s appealing and feels strong, there’s a hint of “I feel like I’ve heard this before”, especially via the guitar intricacy. Shaking that off, the song comes like a fear-soaked freefall, with a similar surrounded or encased kind of atmosphere that we heard in “Ghost”.
The practically buried “We live like we’re immortal” of the chorus attempts to anchor the song to mind amidst the ongoing tension and turbulence. Despite the earnest delivery of the lyrics and the interwoven layers of sound, the track doesn’t resonate with me in a meaningful way, and it’s tough to explain exactly why that is. The singing of the outro attempts to crack my heart open a little, but doesn’t quite get there before it drifts away.
Yelling into the oblivion, final track “Mirror Image” proclaims responsibility, and seems to be responding to the themes of the songs before it. It’s another instrumentally dense track that captures concern and urgency. Clearly and also dissonantly, the song’s chorus is a majestic (and pleasant) surprise to my ears. But it’s barely there before we’re ripped into tension that’s skillfully crafted by LUNE, before a moment of downward tumbling ahead of a fetid pool of shame.
The spoken word section of “Mirror Image” was a surprise, and again LUNE reveal a soaring version of themselves that connects the first song to this final one. Admittedly I’ve been far too swept up in the sound of the songs to sink too deeply into the lyrics and subject matter of Ghost, but the full circle nature of the release is clear.
Ghost proved to be a very cool listen; one where I could tell there was a lot of enjoyment and enthusiastic creativity behind crafting these dark tracks. To me, LUNE shone most in the soaring and ethereal moments that presented them as radiant and hovering above the grit of shame and stagnancy, and I sought more of those moments and their freshness. But they also excel at creating oppressive atmospheres; the kind when you feel hated by unseen forces and your head is full of unrelenting noise. The blend of the two worked well on Ghost, as much as I wanted to hear more of the former.
Despite the uniqueness of structure and moments scattered throughout Ghost, I think memorability is a hurdle for LUNE to overcome, where these really great pieces of sonic art could also prove to be unforgettable and be stuck in heads everywhere. Though it may have perfectly matched the mood of the songs, some of the riff-heavier moments washed over me and it was hard to feel a part of what was created.
A strong release, nonetheless. Ghost is a strong debut for Krys Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Tyler Hendley, David Freeland, and Harrison Mills. And with that, I’m heading off to listen to “Misery Dialogue” a few (hundred) more times.
Greater memorability and connection will see these songs get the attention they deserve.
Endless potential and fascinatingly unpredictable.