I love it when my musical worlds collide. Like an instantaneous moment of record geekiness, I had a minute of joy when reading the press release for what will be, n5MD’s last release of the year; Preghost’s ‘Ghost Story’.
Preghost is also known as Kosuke Anamizu; a name I became familiar with during my years of obsession over Traum Schallplatten (have a read and listen to this feature/mix if you want to dive into that particular world). Kosuke was responsible for one of my favourite tracks, ‘Moopy’ released as part of the Elektronische Musik Interkontinental 3 compilation, but more specifically, the vinyl flip-side to a Process track (at which point I was buying up every single piece of Process vinyl I could find). It was a track I loved but for the life of me, and the one thing I remember about it, could never mix very well (that darn funky bassline).
It was also artists like Kosuke that led me to discover Mule Electronic too, another stunning record label worth trawling through (see this small post from back in 2009). Some years later this musical yellow-brick-road begins to sweep back into a more recent world, as Kosuke took on his new (and more infamous) alias, Moshimoss and released the superb ‘Endless Endings‘ on Ametsub’s label, Nothings66. Mastered by Nils Frahm, it was a dive into the realm of Sigur Ros with gentle electronics and angelic atmospheres.
As if that wasn’t enough for 2013, Kosuke has chosen to debut his latest alias, Preghost on the brilliant n5MD label, with ‘Ghost Story’. Now, I finally made it, apologies it took this long, but it’s worth the read. Now where to begin…
Stunning is a good word to start. Kosuke has gone and mashed every style he’s mastered over the years, From the melodic techno of early Traum, to the atmospherics of Endless Endings, to the beautiful and unique sound which n5MD seem to be cultivating at the moment – a new monster has been born.
A stirring mass of atmosphere and harsh distant guitars give way to a floating, echo of a vocal. What seems like a subtle Saxaphone creeps in the distance, but before you know it, the squelchy warm beats kick off and ‘Seeker’ begins the Ghost Story.
‘Snow Leopard’ begins with a very similar feeling to a lot of recent bvdub work (particularly his productions as Earth House Hold) with a sampled, looping vocal leading up to a stomping dubby-beat and dirty underlying bass – my favourite track on the album.
Intricacies come to clear in ‘Alter Ego’, a dreamy and busy track with a subtle melody and again, a gentle progressive stance that leaves you floating amongst a pattern of violins and complex beat structures.
By ‘Predawn’ I noticed how much of a perfect fit this album was for n5MD’s electronica roster. Elements of Ocoeur, (ghost) and bvdub, shining through by the second, particularly with the clean, clicky ‘Predawn’ beats.
Washes fizzle amongst a mechanical, growing presence on ‘Cliff Edge Ghost’, a dark and haunting repetition that summons you into a euphoric steam of power – like the morning’s mist rising from the sea over an intimidating cliff-face.
A more conventional electronic beat takes centre stage on ‘Lostus’, prefaced by a creepy vocal and later bathed in swathes of choral ambience – a slightly jarring and uncomfortable juxtaposition that continues Kosuke’s ghostly theme. ‘Siusin’ is also similar in style, with swirling vocals perched on top of a driving dub-techno beat and again, that formidable bass.
Ametsub then provides a remix of ‘Lostus’ staying true to the major elements mentioned above but paying more attention to the complex beat structure. More of a composed ‘song’ structure is present, instead of the long progression you’re used to by now, helped by a break into the main melody half-way through and the keys being pitched slightly higher. It’s the slightly happier version of what is a dark and haunting original by Kosuke.
Ending on ‘Departures’, the album finishes with one of its finest moments. A pounding combination of glittering vocals, melancholic piano, bright ambient pads, and that simple but very present beat you’ve been addicted to throughout the album.
This is definitely my favourite work Kosuke has produced in the nine or so years i’ve followed him, and i’d go as far to say one of the best electronica albums of the year. An insight into the complexities that adorned his early techno work balanced with the hypnotic and atmospherics of his more recent work as Moshimoss.
It also caps off what has been an unbelievable year of releases from n5MD which have all set the tone for a new breed of electronica artists; Ocoeur, (ghost) and a return of some of the best (bvdub, Arovane). If you’re a fan of n5MD’s output this year, then Ghost Story is the unexpected crowning glory of 2013.