It’s hard to picture any of the songs on the Ghostkeeper LP, Horse Chief! War Thief!, as the edited, concise statements. The Calgary band’s work is frantic and fragmented; the result of laboratory experimentation executed with no expectations or restrictions.
It would be easy to dismiss the resulting noise collages as unfocused, but when you hear the nascent stages of “Gospel Slinger” - originally dubbed “Blankets” - and compare the chaos to the simplified, pseudo dub end result you witness the vision and dedication to sound that so many experimental outfits overlook.
“Blankets” started as a dark storm of guitars, screams and terror but underneath it all, was a simple program driven melody. Ghostkeeper spends the first two-minutes painting in lighter tones, before executing a sharp left and tying to balance tension and pure fear.
Over time, the band stripped out almost every layer from the final mix, choosing precision and clarity over muddy exploration. The melody persists, but it’s given endless open space and the darkness, and while still ominous, feels more like a threatening storm building off the coast than hurricane like forces battering against your windows.
Horse Chief! War Thief! is out now on Saved By Vinyl. It’s a bizarre, fascinating collection of textures as dense as cored uranium. It’s fragmented notes held together with soft hands and rough stitching.