Hey everyone! RobBarracuda, and it’s time for the second part of my look at the 2008 compilation Ghostly Swim. In the first part, I looked at the first 10 tracks of the compilation, and this time I’m looking at the last 9 songs. I suggest reading part 1 before checking out this part, and of course you can download Ghostly Swim for free here. Let’s continue.
11. Aeroc – “Idiom”
Aeroc has two albums under his belt: Viscous Solid from 2004 and R+B=? in 2011. His first album is cold and unsettling in nature, with several songs that make you feel and experience the vast empty loneliness of space. His second album had a more developed sound, retaining some elements of the first while adding things like percussive beats and more acoustic guitars, the latter being something used on only a few songs from Viscous Solid. “Idiom” is somewhat of a deviation from the style on Aeroc’s major releases, starting off with a bleeping melody that sounds upbeat and even a little whimsical. The melody gets a little moodier towards the end, but not overly so. The best way to think of this song is like it’s an improved version of a Sega Genesis game soundtrack. I find myself listening to this and imagining if the casino levels from old Sonic The Hedgehog games took place in outer space, and that’s some pretty cool imagery right there.
12. The Reflecting Skin – “Traffickers”
I can’t really find much information on The Reflecting Skin (not even a biography on Ghostly International’s website), so I’ll just jump into the song. “Traffickers” is a song whose closest fitting genre tag would appear to be synthwave, a style of electronic music whose sound and aesthetic are influenced by science fiction and the pop culture of the 80’s. This song in particular seems to evoke imagery in the vain of Blade Runner or The Matrix, with constant rain and gray skies overlooking a futuristic-but-dark and ominous cityscape. People run through these streets avoiding detection as they can, afraid of being caught by an advanced police force best suited to this kind of landscape. This is one of the best songs on the compilation, allowing the listener to sit back and get fully immersed in its gritty future downtown atmosphere.
13. School Of Seven Bells – “Chain”
“Chain” appeared on the October 2008 release Alpinisms by the group School of Seven Bells, an indie rock/dream pop band from New York City. “Chain”, much like their entire discography, is very typical of the genre. The song uses synthesizers, electronic drums, and somewhat computerized vocals to create a dreamlike, almost summer-esque atmosphere, with some guitars thrown in to help flesh it out. The most interesting part is the incorporation of bongo drums into the mix, which really helps to round the general feeling of the song. It helps “Chain” capture the sense of summer pretty closely, like you’re out on the beach on a warm June afternoon with a group of close friends. A standard song for the genre, but a relaxing one nonetheless.
14. Ben Benjamin – “Squirmy Sign Language”
The music of Ben Benjamin is primarily focused on presenting emotional experiences of varying kinds and composing songs in a way that vividly paint a mental image. “Squirmy Sign Language” is no different, being a song that feels like it’s meant to conjure up the idea of two emotionally attached people losing each other and desperately searching for one another. The sci-fi vibes given off throughout most of the song, combined with the layered lead guitars and bells in the first half, create a somber and melancholy mental scene, one of two lovers somehow adrift in empty space and unable to reconnect. It’s an extraordinarily somber track, but quite good for that type of song.
15. Kill Memory Crash – “Hit + Run”
Kill Memory Crash are a duo from Chicago who writes music that bears a significant resemblance to the discography of Nine Inch Nails, carrying that same kind of dark industrial vibe. This makes sense considering Kill Memory Crash first started in the mid-90’s, which would be around the same time NIN put out their most famous album, The Downward Spiral. That’s basically the best way I can describe “Hit + Run”: proudly wearing the Nine Inch Nails influence on its sleeve, which I would consider a good thing since I really like NIN. While the vocals on “Hit + Run” aren’t as intense as those of Trent Reznor, they are no less creepy and unnerving, and the beat has the same kind of feeling that while it could be recreated with wood-and-metal instruments, it feels harder-hitting because of its synthetic nature. Personally speaking, I’d call this my absolute favorite song on the compilation.
16. Osborne – “Wait A Minute”
The music of Osborne is all about the dance vibes. When you hear a song of his, you absolutely feel the need to get on the dance floor and groove. Whether it be futuristic or exotic, his music has a way of increasing your desire to get down whenever you listen. “Wait A Minute” is no different, with perhaps the closest familiar point of reference being the famous electronic music duo Daft Punk. The song embodies the same kind of futuristic disco party feeling embodied on the famous Discovery album. The bass is funky, the drumbeat is tight, and the whole thing is brought together with those sweet vocoder vocals. This song makes me think of that episode of Space Dandy where they encounter the alien Tom Travolta on Planet Grease, and I imagine the two of them being able to dance and compete with each other set to this exact tune. “Wait A Minute” is just a groovy song; what more can be said?
17. Milosh – “Then It Happened”
“Then It Happened” is one of the more soothing songs on the compilation, sounding like indie version of a bedtime lullaby. The high-tweeting synths and relaxed vocals offer a pretty low-key feeling that one can just sit back and relax to as it tries to induce a dream-like sensation in the listener. Listening to the song feels like flashing back to gentle memories of the past, to happier innocent times. A decent song if you just want something easy to relax and chill to.
18. 10:32 – “Blue Little”
Listening to the song “Blue Little” evokes the imagery of the sea, feeling like taking a submarine trip into the deepest depths of the ocean. The beat is vast and heavily echoing constantly, with glitches and breaks throughout, as well as what sounds like the buzzing of broken electrical wires emitting sparks. You can just picture the wide open blueness of the ocean in front of you, feeling nothing but empty and melancholic, as you have nothing to keep you company except the sound of broken machines left aboard with you. Another good song worthy of zoning out to when you feel alone.
19. Mux Mool – “Night Court”
Ghostly Swim closes out with a song by producer Mux Mool who, interestingly, wasn’t signed to Ghostly International around the time of its release (he was signed to Moongadget until at least 2009). “Night Court” is another really infectious dance song, with the kind of drumming and auxiliary percussion that would be right at home with 70’s disco music. The syncopated guitar-like synth beat helps the song maintain its extraordinarily tight groove, and the robotic belching overtop the beat adds to the futuristic vibe of the entire song. Another solid song, and a good way to end the compilation.
So that was the Ghostly Swim compilation. 19 songs with varying moods and feelings, from dark industrial to catchy dance grooves to somber and melancholic, and everything else in between. The compilation does a good job of representing what Ghostly International are about in terms of their sound, and makes for some great insight into Adult Swim’s musical identity. That’s all from me for now, and I can’t wait to talk about more of the block’s musical endeavors in the future. Until next time!
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