John Ghost – Thin Air. Mirror Land (ENG review)

Sdban Records – Street Date October 6th 2023
Jazz moderne
John Ghost – Thin Air. Mirror Land

Here is an excellent album that you won’t hear on Bayou Blue Radio, simply due to a stylistic mismatch with our programming. However, for the rest, this collective of excellent musicians from the Gent region in Belgium, where Flemish is spoken, and French is reserved for tourism, guitarist and composer John De Geest offers us an electro-rock jazz album, rather dark and exceptionally deep in composition and arrangements. As far as atmospheres go, we are in for a treat. With a track like “The Hedges,” it reminded me of my walks in the rain through the streets of Gent many years ago. There’s a certain greyness, an endless rain in this track that can last longer than what a writer’s dream might surprise them with, abruptly waking them up and plunging them back into the anxiety of the blank page…
The intentions here are more genuinely electro-rock than jazz, with aspects of repetitive music, undoubtedly lending a sacred or mystical quality to the album’s titles. Everything here is black and in relief, which could have pleased the late Pierre Soulages, who made it a form of pictorial writing. It could have sparked a conversation with the creator of “The Abyss,” Marguerite Yourcenar, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on TV sets a long time ago, and with whom it was delightful to converse.
I mention all of this to emphasize the scholarly intellectual approach of this album. It permeates as if a dagger were piercing us. This music can even be insistent, unsettling, as it questions us at the deepest level of our being.
During the creative process, Jo drew inspiration from the music of artists such as Hans Zimmer, György Ligeti, Magma, The Residents, Disasterpeace, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Do Make Say Think, William Basinski, and Jóhann Jóhannsson. The album title, “Thin Air. Mirror Land,” and the song titles are inspired by a fascination with the work of Edvard Munch. Jo found inspiration in Munch’s painting “The Storm” (1893) as a catalyst for the writing process, exploring a dystopian context and the intriguing interaction between comfort and tumult.
So, that’s almost everything. After listening to this album, those of you with inventive minds, keen to explore the slightest details, will irresistibly want to discuss it. This is where you need to choose your conversation partner wisely because this album is radical and certainly not for everyone.
As for the question of whether we recommend this album, both the Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move editorial teams say: Definitely yes! Is it a must-have? Probably, but not accessible to everyone.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, September 29th 2023


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