Glenn Murawski – Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered – Album Review
For the record, I was right.
I’ve been tellin’ both you and Glenn directly that there was no possible chance he’d actually slow himself down, and every step of the way the man has proven me right. The most you’d find me conceding to ya is that perhaps, in whatever one week he maybe took off from making music somewhere along the way (though likely the result of a forced vacation), he slowed down by his own standards and measures. Not in comparison to the rest of ya though folks, that I can promise ya. What’s that? You need proof? You don’t just trust me, even though I’ve always told ya how right I was? Fair enough…I get it. How about the…hmm…seventeen or so releases Glenn has put out since…May this year when we last had him up on our pages? Will that do for ya? Have you been that active with your music? Think of it this way, if you include September (which isn’t finished yet, so stay tuned…) then that’s only an average of merely 4.25 Murawski records per month as opposed to the 5.67 it actually is…you do whichever math you feel most comfortable with, or feel like you can keep up to. The reality is, no one can keep up to Glenn right now; I ain’t here to put the brakes on his creativity…lord knows I wouldn’t stop making music myself if I had a tenth of the man’s sleep schedule and skills…I’ve said my piece on it all, he knows how I feel…none of that really matters anyway to be honest (and we know that)…but at the end of the day, it’s pretty hard not to be inspired by his relentless dedication to his music, every bit as much as the quality of his results.
Dude’s put together a more haunted set of atmospheres for his Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered record, which as I understand it would be another one of Murawski’s revisits to past material, which borrows mostly from the Ghosts EP that was released just shortly after Glenn had put out In The End We Reap What We Sow, which was his last appearance on our pages prior. Good movement & dynamic sound at work on “Ghosts” – you can instantly hear why he’s received stellar feedback on this cut already from others out there, it’s pretty much a solidly universal tune with a lot of spark to its energy. Typically Glenn’s a bit more laidback & chilled than what you find here, mind the extended thirty-five second intro & slow build to follow – once you get to the peak intensity of what “Ghosts” has to offer your ears with its beat coming in and low-end synth vibes combined, you can hear the man excel and start really thriving. Excellent use of electro-based percussion, fantastic melody laid on over top with the ice-like keys, and there are even more layers of atmospheric texture laid over that too as “Ghosts” plays on. Remarkably, it never feels overstuffed, never feels like one layer is trying to compensate for a lack of strength in any other – “Ghosts” is an undeniably tight tune and a great start to this lineup of Glenn’s tunes…it’s definitely got a vibe that will catch your attention, even in the sparsest moments of how it starts…the kind of audible seriousness that suggests to your ears it’s wise for them to listen carefully. He generates significant interest right off the drop here…y’ain’t gonna find me complaining about that – “Ghosts” is a wicked start to this album & will go on to remain one of the record’s strongest cuts from beginning to end.
No lie though, it’s been HARD out there for track twos lately. I’ve been hearing so many absolutely stellar openings to albums & EPs in recent days that artists & bands have been crushing it so well, the next song you’ll hear seems to struggle for our acceptance, no matter how good they’ve actually been. Glenn’s gonna continue that with “Specters” here…it’s not “Ghosts,” but again, it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination either. In fact for the 2:17 it is, there’s a whole ton of noteworthy creativity on display and a really clever use of his time to be found – it’s just about a tenth of the accessibility as what you’d find in the opening cut when it comes to the potential listeners out there. That being said, it really also depends on the mood you’re in – I don’t know that Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered is the album you put on everyday…maybe it’s the record you pull out in time for Halloween to celebrate the spirits – you know what I mean, a very mood-specific type record that makes a whole lot more sense when you sit down to absorb it in that specific moment. “Specters” is hesitant throughout that first minute of building itself up…from there on, I’m pretty stoked on what I hear – I think as far as texture goes, Glenn shows you what a clever artist he can be with the way he’s captured a fairly grinding sound frequency-wise and turned it into something that listeners could handle. I dig the churning you hear in the background…there’s a lot of detail here, even if “Specters” might not be nearly so much straight-ahead as a song typically can be, the uniqueness in his sound selection could still get him a good verdict in the court of public opinion. Bonus points for the deconstructed ending & last second switches, I loved that.
I felt a bit similar towards “The Succubus” as I did towards “Ghosts” at the outset; I appreciate the build, but it’s the beats that are taking these tunes to the next level for sure. Once “The Succubus” truly finds its footing and starts to kick into gear in-full, it’s 100% irresistible, and that’s the facts. For those of you out there like myself, that love your Electro-based tunes in a variety of ways, you’d wanna think right along the lines of something like Boards Of Canada in comparison to what you’ll hear on “The Succubus” – and that’s hallowed ground you’re stepping into right there Mr. Murawski…great company to be keeping. Anything close to the realm of what BOC creates is going to get an enthusiastic thumbs-up from me, and likely from just as many of you out there. I’m probably more for “The Succubus” at about half its total length now, or perhaps even less…I think there’s a really significant hook in the music that occurs in the late stages of the melody I would have wanted more of, and really we’re talking about barely two-minutes of that exquisite beat out of a nearly five-minute tune. I ain’t here to tell ya I think “The Succubus” IS the greatest Murawski song I’ve ever heard in my life – but pieces of it sure are, and there’s not a doubt in my mind about that. To be completely fair to Glenn, like I told ya at the start, we’re used to finding him in the more mellow gear of which a song like “The Succubus” begins…but now that he’s introduced a couple of verifiably exciting beats in his first three tunes, we kinda want more of that, don’t we? “The Succubus” starts out with just enough engaging sound to keep you in, slowly twists it a bit more in an enticing direction as it continues, and becomes all-out addictive by the time it’s over.
“Haunting” delivers on what its title promises ya it will. Eerie organs in the mix…odd atmospheric vibes creepin’ on ya and such – it’d make for a supreme track to pair in a Horror movie setting without question. Like if you’re out there and you make video games or independent films etc., and you’re NOT giving Glenn a call immediately after listening to “Haunting” to get him to score your next whatever, ya need to give your head a shake. When you think of quintessential soundtrack artists like Danny Elfman, or something more close to John Carpenter here on this particular cut, and how they’ve been able to influence what we see on screen through what we hear supporting each scene – you gotta hand it to Glenn for what he’s accomplished on “Haunting” – he proves he could absolutely hang with the best of’em out there. I dig the distance in the piano as it starts, I loved how it all seems to descend lower & lower as we listen…and the sounds from the surface to what lies underneath are all really well produced and crystal clear for us to hear. It’s kind of like something akin to “A Warm Place” by Nine Inch Nails, or tunes you’d find on Trent’s own Ghosts anthology…ultimately, that’s a comparison you end up making & equally knowing there’s automatically an audience for a sound like what you find on “Haunting.” Very much one of the cuts that most reflects the Ghosts vibe you’d be looking for on this Deluxe Remastered set of Murawski music…it’s a highly moody & menacing vibe at work here, but it’s got the mix of subtle intensity that fans of Horror movies have loved for years & years. It’s a slower cut, but lots of potential – maybe even more than most in this lineup if you’re considering its possible onscreen opportunities.
At a tiny 2:36, “Phantoms” is split pretty evenly between the build of its beginning & what follows after. I’m…hmm…not opposed to it, but I’m not quite feeling the ranting & raving about it comin’ on either, you feel me? It’s a good cut on the Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered record, not a huge standout, but not a track that’ll get ignored or passed over as people listen…it’s a quality cut, there’s just better from Glenn is all. I dig the rhythm-line he puts into this track towards the fifty-second mark and found that massively effective in swaying my opinion as it continued…it felt like “Phantoms” floated along in search of its idea for a minute there, and by the time we latch onto it, it’s not too long before it’s all wrapped up. The only thing I know for sure – in LIFE – is that Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms (*chuckle, inside Hollywood joke) – as for this song, I think it’ll still go over pretty well with the listeners out there, largely due to the energetic spark it eventually adds into the mix…the beats have been working out well for Glenn, and all-in-all, I’m still saying that they do on “Phantoms” as well. It’s a good tune, I enjoyed it.
If I’m being honest with the man, I think it’s the ratio to the formula that needs a little tinkering with. I’m all for a great intro…whether it be a story, a song, a movie, or even just a conversation I’m having with someone…context supplies so much, and it’s always an important ingredient when it comes to the structuring of music. That being said, if we’re looking at a lot of this record, we’re talking about intros into these songs that are potentially between about 30-50% of the length before they seem to find that spark that’s going to reach most people out there listening…and that’s something to consider I suppose. Like I told ya from the get-go, I don’t think Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered was created with the intentions of it being a record for everyday listening, so much as it is for when you’re feelin’ in that creepin’ mood. “Revenants” for example, will take a journey through about nearly two full-minutes of a slow crawl before it instantly springs to life, and can’t help but catch our attention from there on in. Some people will of course appreciate the slow build of a song – and don’t get me wrong, I do too – having as many on one record with similar structures is what eventually threatens to potentially water down the effect a bit. I can get behind the first 1:50 enough…it’s not an unwelcome vibe, it’s just not doing a whole lot – and by comparison to what occurs afterwards, it’s like Glenn was on a vacation at the Haunted Mansion for a moment there in retrospect…but it’s hard to argue that the final two-minutes doesn’t once again win the war for the guy in the battle overall. I think the second-half of this cut bails him out a bit on this one when it comes to the listeners out there on a large scale, but I’m at least intrigued by its beginning.
There ya go. 1:35 in. Start’er up there hoss – that’s where “Ghosts II” should begin, catchin’ us with instantly gripping sound and allowing you to continue to innovate it even further from there – that’s my opinion. A great build in a structure can be exactly that – but a method used too often can dull its impact on us…ultimately you really want it to still serve a significant purpose – I could maybe make an argument for starting it around the 1:05 mark, but I still think the real spark we wanna hear occurs right at 1:33 and generates undeniably interesting & equally catchy vibes that the people wanna rock with. The spectacular details he’s put into this cut as the eerie melody haunts the surface with a chilled-out plucked string sound that just kind of playfully bounces along as the atmosphere around it surges with vibrant intensity…the mix of energy found here post-1:33 stays 100% engaging and there’s no two-ways about it. The very definition of captivating sound, you get caught right in a whirlwind of stellar attention to the finest details and a perfect mix of Glenn’s layered technique that’s at its most mesmerizing and compelling. “Ghosts II” might take a minute to get to where it’s going, but I assure ya it’s well worth the waiting…once this track kicks into its main gear, Murawski’s on completely solid ground and flexin’ a serious amount of finesse with the cleverness he’s applied into the multi-directional movement this has.
The big drums and rubbery vibes of “Spirits Of The Dark” should have no real problem making an impact on the people out there, you can hear there’s life in this cut right from the start as Glenn pounds these beats into the fabric of our speakers and haunts our thoughts in the process with the atmospherically inclined sound swirling alongside it. The build works well here, because it’s got teeth right from the start and a verifiable hook in the way those drums sound that immediately pulls us in – and I suppose that’s the difference we’re looking for. Of course, it’s impossible to have everything all the millions of which ways it would suit our fancy…I don’t know that there’s as much of a song here to ultimately back up those magnificent drum sounds as much as you’ll find in the majority of this set list, but again, for a specific mood & a specific time where you really wanna hear some stormin’ drum sounds, this would definitely fill that void for ya 100%. It really all depends on what Glenn wants to do…stylistically, he can pattern himself right into similar structures despite different sounds, and part of me still really feels like he’s leaving a lot on the table when it comes to the hooks he creates. As in, where most artists would tend to have their most engaging moments be the main feature, in Murawski’s music they’re often a highlight aspect, usually found at the end, and I can’t help but keep thinking he could bring that all forward a bit more, focus on those main aspects of universal vibes that he’s so capable of creating, and turn what can be more of a meander into an audible path that more would be willing to go down with him. I could be wrong in that assessment…and it might not even be the overall goal…but yeah, it’s not like the man doesn’t create some seriously kickass hooks & moments in time – he absolutely does – for lack of a better word, I just feel like he’s gotta exploit those a bit more within the lengths of his material. Production-wise, credit where credit is due – he’s been crushing the living daylights outta this record from the first cut and goes on to continue that hot streak right to the end – in terms of how things sound on Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered, all hooks etc. aside – the very sound of this album is undeniably exquisite, and the man should be incredibly proud of the exceptional quality we hear from left to right.
“Deadly Apparition” holds its own pretty well – another cut I’d out in there with the likes of something close to “Haunting” where Glenn has found his way into a track that’d make for the perfect Horror film accompaniment. Dig the bells tollin’ at the start, calling all our souls to listen in…and as you near that first minute mark, once again you brace for that shift you know is likely to follow. While the moves might be a bit easier to spot coming by this point on Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered to a degree, sometimes you run into cuts where it doesn’t become as much of a factor in the overall assessment, which is simply the result of having that much more of a gripping spread of sound over both of this song’s main halves. Aside from its final twenty-seconds or so, I felt like Glenn got the maximum out of this cut…personally I dig the space you’ll find at the beginning of this track and the depth between that & the bells…it’s ominous stuff, and you feel the sound of “Deadly Apparition” begin to swell like a large looming shadow. Another excellent example of Murawski using electro-percussion to lead the way, the energy is right where you want it to be as this cut transitions, and the guitar-based synth sounds make a freakishly creepy presence that’s about as intense as it gets. As Glenn shifts up note-by-note towards the final moments of “Deadly Apparition,” don’t get me wrong, I get the idea he’s going for…king of a cliffhanger design for a finale to end it at its most suspenseful…I’m just not 100% sure it’s the best method to get him there…it might come off as a bit too easy, too simplistic, and too anti-climactic as a result…it’s hard to say. It seems to fit well, that part I’d concede to ya…but still missing a bit of oomph at the very end. Hard to judge the total sum on that final twenty seconds though – most of “Deadly Apparition” has no problem at all being completely badass, and I’d imagine no one will make that comment on the ending like I have…most out there will give it a pass without thinking twice about it, and that’s cool with me.
There are things I like about “Summoning The Wraith” and a few things that hold me back from lovin’ on it. Sometimes we just end up choosing a sound that in itself, could be a hook – many times that’ll end up being the case – but for some, it’ll just rub ya the wrong way a little, which is what happened to me with this last cut to a degree. The high-up frequency of the main twinkle…I needed an out from that at some point and once it started up, that never came along. To me, it sounds like I’m stuck in an endless loop of trying to decide which treasure chest I want to open in Super Mario 3 to get my special item, or try to line up all three portions of the Star-Man, Flower, or Mushroom to get my extra lives before going on to conquer another world…and that’s kinda hellish to me after a couple of spins, no lie. It’s hard to escape because not only does it maintain a presence on repeat once it becomes a part of the song, but it’s also at a frequency that rises above the rest…so our ears literally don’t even stand a chance of losing it in order to focus on something else. And that’s where things get tougher for me…I wanna hear a lot of what’s happening in the background once we’re past that first minute and the rest kicks into gear along with it…and it’s harder to get to here…no question about that. In the background, Glenn’s got a lot of great things goin’ on…truly…but it feels like we’re being hypnotized subliminally at the same time in taking in this track…and that’s a bit odd & eerie in itself too, ain’t it? Once that low-end cello or whatever it is ends up coming to add the strength to the strangeness & thickness to the atmosphere towards the 2:25 mark, it’s arguably a bit more balanced and gets closer to the results he’s looking to achieve…but I’m still not quite sure it gets there, personally speaking. Perhaps you’ll hear this one differently than I do…it’s hard to say…my gut tells me that main high-up twinklin’ needs to come way down in the mix if it’s gonna be included at all, and that the rest of what’s actually in behind it, is what’s really keeping us all listening to this final cut. If anything, it might just be the crystal clarity of his immaculate production that’s getting the best of him a little bit at the end here on “Summoning The Wraith” mix-wise, and revealing a few more points of similarities along the way through his writing on the record overall as a result of being able to absorb it all so readily through the high-quality sound it carries & how clear we can hear it.
Not a step backwards, but not necessarily a giant leap forwards either – Ghosts: Deluxe Remastered is a fairly lateral move for Glenn that reveals a lot of great ideas, killer production, and memorable highlights – as to whether or not it’s his best, I’ll leave that up to y’all to judge for yourselves of course, you’ve got my two cents for what it’s worth…now it’s up to you to listen. Bottom line is Glenn Murawski’s always got something along the way through any given record that’ll seriously wow you, excite you, or raise your pulse – this album included – it might not be for everyday listening, but its inherently menacing vibes, however subtle they may be, will come in plenty handy with the candy this Halloween for sure.
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