Team Ghost: Rituals – album review

Team Ghost ‘Rituals’ (Wsphere)
Released: 15th April 2013

It’s been a while arriving, but Team Ghost’s debut long player was certainly worth the wait…

Nicholas Fromageau was one of the founding members of French shoegazers M83, a band who gained some cult status following their first two albums for Mute Records around the mid 2000s. Fromageau stepped aside from M83 some nine years ago and formed Team Ghost with Christophe Geurin and Benoit de Villeneuve, the latter of which had contributed to some M83 tracks on the Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghost record, and a recruited a new rhythm section to release various EPs through the Sonic Cathedral label, doing the odd remix here and there and taking support slots with the likes Crystal Castles and Liars too. It’s seemed like forever awaiting the release of a debut album, but finally nascent label w-Sphere are releasing it after making Team Ghost their first signing. W-sphere have high plans, with delivering ‘Leftfield music for the masses’ their apparent mission statement from the blurb on the landing page of their website, which is also the only page on their website. It’s a lofty ambition, anything consumed by the masses ceases to really be leftfield, so it’ll be interesting to see how they plan to achieve this.

So to the album. Fans of M83 and of the early Team Ghost EPs will probably know what to expect here; predominantly, Rituals is an album of textures, of long, sprawling synthesised soundscapes, whispering voices and lots and lots of reverb and delay married with the occasional thump of droning guitars and more jagged drum patterns. From the very outset, as the warm keys of album opener ‘Away’ begin to swirl around, punctuated by incoming drums and rising distortion, the tone for the following eleven tracks is set. In fact, you could almost view ‘Away’ as a microcosm of the entire record as it contains a little bit of everything that comes after, a snapshot of how the next 39 minutes will unfold.

Notable highlights are the punchy ‘Curtains’, reminiscent of the Secret Machines across their first two albums, the loud, stabbing guitar parts contrasting nicely with the hushed, breathy vocals. ‘Things Are Sometimes Tragic’ is blissful, dreamy, driven initially by jumpy drums. The beautiful ‘All We Left Behind’ builds from a lonely piano riff into a wall of magnificent noise the shoegazers of the early nineties would have been proud of. The eponymous track is darker – cleaner plucked guitars under a deep, almost spoken vocal line makes for a warm, though slightly edgy, off kilter experience. There’s a spikiness to the lyrics too, labelling the target of their ire a ‘fucking asshole’ in the jaunty ‘Fireworks’ and confessing to being more than a little turned on in the cheeky paean to voyeurism that is ‘Somebody’s Watching’.

It may have taken a little while for Team Ghost’s full length debut to arrive, but the wait was certainly worth it. The songs capture different moods through various easily accomplished styles, their influences taking in faint traces of late sixties krautrock all the way to the modern day synth driven shoegaze of Maps, touching upon the Jesus and Mary Chain, dEUS and Fromageau’s own M83 along the way. There’s little to criticise really, the record ebbs and flows quite coherently and the louder moments from the guitars serve quite nicely to jolt you back from the dreamier cushion laid down by the synths. If this is leftfield music for the masses, it’s fine by me.



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