x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

CD review: The Black Ghosts' When Animals Stare

The band's second offering proves wholly satisfying.

The Black Ghosts
When Animals Stare
(Southern Fried)
****

Theo Keating might not be a household name, but for the past 13 years his numerous aliases have been among the most prolific in electronic music. From the breakbeat chart success of Ooh La La as The Wiseguys, to 2008's noodling bass-heavy club smash Mars under his Fake Blood guise, via a whole catalogue of remixes, the producer has never been too far from a record box. And then there's The Black Ghosts: Keating's project with the Simian founder Simon William Lord (aka Lord Skywave), which puts away the filthy basslines in favour of something altogether more chilled. When Animals Stare, the follow-up to the band's eponymous 2008 debut, continues almost exactly where Keating and Lord left off, blending lo-fi electro and indie-pop into one tidy package. Lord's ethereal vocals drift over the top of Keating's tight bleeps and beats, providing the emotional layer that binds the album together. There are perhaps more orchestral influences than before. The slow-paced Water Will Find a Way sees a brass section competing with the bass thumps while the uplifting Forgetfulness features the rasping sound of a tenor sax. Even in the Darkness and In the Clouds offer the more danceable options, the few with a regular four-four beat, although the bouncy bass of Talk No More will satisfy most disco feet. While nothing might stand out as the instant hit-maker, it's a wholly satisfying second offering. And for those who might prefer Keating's heavier Fake Blood productions, just look out for the myriad remixes that are bound to follow.

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