Album: STRAY GHOST – Nothing, But Death (Hidden Shoal 2010)

Stray Ghost’s Anthony Saggers has been a prolific chap over the last couple of years, with releases cropping up on Dead Pilot, Phantom Channel, Highpoint Lowlife and most recently Hidden Shoal. His latest for the Australian label is a 75 minute journey divided into eight semi-discrete sections. It’s called Nothing, But Death. The title may promise a long, dark trip into doom and gloom, but the music isn’t like that all.

It’s a collection of melodic and environmentally informed ambience that begins with the sound of the sea and ends with bird song. If anything, this is a celebration of life rather than an introspective gaze at its end. Much of Saggers’ previous work has been drone-based, but here the music is much more open and coloured, with drifting, wave-like melodies composed of synth washes and string samples. There’s even some clarinet noodling on Part 2 which brought to mind images of Acker Bilk greeting the dawn on some vast, flat shore.

The key to this music is space. Not cosmic space, but wide open landscapes with sweeping skies. Somewhere to escape to, away from the claustrophobia of modern life. Yes, there is sadness in this music, but also joy. The sort of wondrous feeling that a spectacular landscape or sunset or a clear sky on a pitch black night gives you. It’s Saggers best work yet.

Tracks
1 Part 1 9:19
2 Part 2 10:17
3 Part 3 5:32
4 Part 4 4:59
5 Part 5 8:59
6 Part 6 3:26
7 Part 7 15:05
8 Part 8 17:55

Websites
www.myspace.com/strayghost
music.hiddenshoal.com

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