Depression takes everything from you. It’s a savage, intangible beast that follows you everywhere. It makes food taste the same. It paints life through a grey palette. Days lose their identity. You become numb to outside stimuli and time fritters away.
You can never escape depression. It will stay with you forever. Therapy, a cornucopia of pills, group sessions, the latest herbal panacea, they only give you a quick push towards the surface, you catch a gasp and then you are pulled away by the riptide, once again, forever listing in a sea with no shore in sight.
Without assuming too much about the band, New Ghost Orchestra feels like the barrage of emotions that pummel your soul while you are in a depression spell. However, there seems to be a few rays of light punching through. Hope in music. Salvation in art. Choose your format: book, music, poem, film, paint, sculpture. Sometimes you can find solace in the creation -or consumption- of art.
New Ghost sings about ephemera. Relationships, happiness, euphoria, wistfulness, longing. Dashes of post-rock, ambient, electronica and shoegaze create a rich stew. Eight songs with a rawness that seep through even the hardest defences. Even if things are slipping through your fingers again, these songs will stay, cling to you, never abandoning you like others have.
There’s a delicate balance between mournful sensations and pure catharsis in New Ghost Orchestra. You might find the electronic drones of both parts of ‘Sleepwalkers’ uplifting, even if there’s a definite sadness fuelling them. Perhaps you might think of many a walk you had to take when you felt overwhelmed, and maybe after a long walk, those chains around your heart finally slip away.
‘Not enough’ and ‘Nightdrive’ feel like the emotional pivots of the album. Quick flashes to previous ventures of New Ghost are present, but upgraded to a new version of themselves. It’s a wistful encounter with your own reflection, recollecting the good and the bad, hopefully finding a way forward. It’s a brutal song. ‘Nightdrive’ befuddled me at first: why is this song clipping? And I assume it’s an artistic choice: it’s that feeling of overwhelming, saturating your existence until you’ve had enough. The manic pulsing that carries the beat is akin to the late night cold sweats that mess with your circadian rhythms.
There are lighter moods in New Ghost Orchestra. There’s a limitless amount of daydreaming in the beautiful ‘Burning Out’. ‘Hours’ brings thunderous choruses and harmonising with a delicate pacing, letting it breathe like a fine expensive wine. ‘The Rest’ gives you a breather, a much needed slice of dreampop that flexes the creativity of New Ghost.
Album closer ‘Stampy’ storms down, with big guitars and saxophone in hand. If there’s a culmination of what New Ghost represents, it’s contained right here. Just like depression backs away and let’s you come back to life. Food now has a taste. You can tell Tuesday from Saturday. The bad will come back, that’s for sure, but you still get some breathing space and a hopefully, new ways to deal with it. Because it never truly goes away, but you learn how to live with it, and even make art about it.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López