The Black Ghosts cast their net pretty wide.
Louis Pattison 2008-07-02
It doesn't immediately make sense that the dancefloor is a good place to work out those darker impulses, but for all the emphasis on chemically-induced euphoria – or in a funny way, perhaps, because of it – UK dance culture has always found a place for artful gloom. From Sabres Of Paradise's Haunted Dancehall to the hollowed-out trudge of modern dubstep, the space between the bar and the bass-bins can sometimes be a pretty downbeat place.
New to these parts are The Black Ghosts, a duo comprised of Simon Lord, previously of pastoral shamblers Simian, and Theo Keating, who scored a UK hit with Ooh La La as part of the Wiseguys in 1999. As such a mixed provenance might suggest, The Black Ghosts cast their net pretty wide. Present on their debut is the tense ballroom bounce of The Specials, gloomy goth dancefloor fillers from The Cure to the Sisters Of Mercy, and a soulful, melancholy electro-pop edge that suggests Hot Chip at their most downbeat, or the Human League fallen on hard times. All are bound together with a very 2008 production that blurs the lines between the shuffle of a live band and synthesised dance stomp.
At times, it works neatly, mostly when the pair choose to explore the outer reaches of their record collection. It’s Your Touch is a disarmingly tender number that uses the duo's slight, soulful harmonies to sweet effect, while Full Moon harks back to Lord's previous work in Simian, a pretty lament of chiming guitars, sad strings and acid bleeps that remembers Fleetwood Mac. Elsewhere, though, The Black Ghosts' synthesis comes off less successfully: the energetically gauche Any Way You Choose To Live is a lumpy blend of rave and clod-hopping rock not dissimilar to 90s dance pop monkeys Jesus Jones. And needless to say, that particular similarity is not an overly positive thing.