First, I have to come clean, Halloween is not celebrated around these parts (Israel) so I was a little worried when I was tasked with writing a review for this split EP, but I pressed forward anyway, and was I surprised.
The EP is a common effort between two British musical projects, Ghost Orange, and drmgrl, the basic arrangement is as follows: the former with the tracks 1,2,4,6, and 8, and the latter with tracks 3,5,7,and 9, it’s released today on drmgrl’s own perfect world recordings label.
Usually, when I think of Halloween, I think of tv specials, little kids going door to door, and the like, but this EP is having none of that, the music can be described as a mix between Goth and Folk, all nicely wrapped in a Lo-Fi package.
The whole atmosphere brings forward the darker sides of Halloween, the lyrics range from bleak, through vindictive, to downright existential, with a backing of sparse acoustic guitars playing mostly minor chords, with small parts of piano and keyboards.
The EP starts with an instrumental piece which gives the EP its title, it sets the tone with a lightly distorted synth sound and a ghostly whistle sound, this track and the other instrumental track, “Ghosts Gather Round” are the only ones where the keyboards take center stage.
If the opening track set the tone sonically, the following track “Catacombs” does it lyrically:
I forget I’m not like the sun
I’m more like the bones in the catacombs
This makes it perfectly clear that this is not a holiday record.
In the 3rd track, “I Love you Octobers”, drmgrl make their entrance in a similar fashion:
Why do birds
Sing their love songs to the sky
That we both know
Will turn cold
And let summer flowers die
While listening the EP, I’ve noticed that although the tracks are split, the musical style is quite similar, the most notable difference I could find is in drmgrl’s more whisper-like vocals.
The light point of the EP, if there ever was one, is the 5th track “Charlie”, which serves as a twisted homage of sorts to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, it even ends with a sample of Sally’s rant to Linus.
My highlight of the EP is the 8th track, “Pigeon”, a gentle tune with nice harmonies and soft piano flourishes, masking the resentful message at the end:
But of course you don’t know
What you don’t know
You only have pigeon thoughts
Thinking pigeon things
The final result is a fine effort, and the fact that it goes against the festive and commercialized spirit of the holiday makes for a very refreshing approach, which appeals to me even more.
So, er…Happy Halloween everyone?