Walking with Ghosts
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Walking with Ghosts
Universally regarded as one of David Wright’s finest albums, the highly acclaimed “Walking With Ghosts” is full of beautiful themes, emotive atmosphere and poignant, memorable melodies. The input of guest musicians on guitars, violin and percussion has enabled the composer to realize his ultimate musical vision, transporting the listener on an unforgettable musical journey of sound and emotion.
A variety of styles fuse together in a wholly satisfactory way presenting one seamless organic soundtrack that recalls epics like Tubular Bells. This is a fantasy excursion of epic proportions, a masterful combination of power and gentle beauty, creating musical vistas on an immense scale that fully justifies the critical acclaim.
“A spectacular fusion of ambient atmospherics, new age, space music and upbeat dynamics”. Backroads (USA) review
“The Fantasy Excursion disc of the year – an incredible musical voyage”. Bear, WWSU radio (USA).
“Powerful, dreamy and highly original” Groove – (Netherlands) review
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12 reviews for Walking with Ghosts
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Steve Roberts, Sequencers,SMD –
At last David Wright’s follow up to ‘360’ is completed after four years in the making and it has been worth the wait. This is his best album to date by a country mile. It is his most consistent, coherent and mature musical statement where he returns to what he does best, producing emotional electronic music for the heart and the head. A variety of styles fuse together in a totally satisfying blend.
Recognizable David Wright trademarks and the contributions from the variety of guest musicians merge into one organic, seamless soundtrack leaving the listener to experience a personal sonic voyage into their own inner or outer space. The set begins with ‘Going Down’, very subtle textures and descending and ascending pitches which serve as a prequel to ‘A Certain Malaise’ which begins with brisk percussion, including tabla effects and a superb cinematic twangy guitar motif vaguely reminiscent of spaghetti western themes, with a bass line to match Morricone at his best.
Before the dust has time to stick in the throat, we are into ‘A Road to Nowhere (A Nomadic Tale)’ which adds percussion, sequences, a terrific theme and some scorching guitar by Andy Lobban. A brilliant track. This is followed by ‘Midnight in the Shadow of Temptation and Delight’, a tranquil sonic oasis of expansive synths and in contrast to the previous searing guitar, wonderfully gentle, expressive, echoed fretwork.
This proves to be merely the eye of the storm however, as ‘Return of the Nomad’ cross fades in even more powerful than before reprising the themes and Lobban’s blistering guitar licks electrify the mix. Again, in complete contrast, this is succeeded by ‘Beyond Paradise’ a superlative ‘come down’ track. This is ‘Beside the Sleepy Lagoon’ for the chill out generation. A gentle bass pulse, sea breeze electronics and a classically understated timeless synth motif which comforts and soothes away the collected angst accumulated in the recesses of your brain is occasionally augmented by blissful heavenly strings.
‘Night Falls’ continues the lilting bass line and motif but adds tasteful saxophone and cymbal effects as the air slowly chills to almost subliminal whispers and echoes. ‘Darklands’ adds a more ominous tone with insistent, doomy chords, moody strings and piano improvisations around a theme. ‘Flame Sky’ changes the atmosphere again with expansive synth and guitar but with Cionna Lee’s violin adding another dimension to the sound with marimba like effects changing the mood again to create a more dream-like, hypnotic, ethnic atmosphere.
‘No More Angels’, another meditative, vaguely ominous piece, features more creative and subtle guitar textures with threatening, restless strings, minimalist piano and rare meteorological interference. ‘Too Late Now!’ is the most abstract piece on the album with vague ethnic references, sweeps and washes which again serve as contrast to the opening section of the 23 minute eponymous opus.’
“Walking with Ghosts: Penumbra” begins with expressive, haunting classical piano eventually backed with treated voices in counter harmony. ‘The second section ‘Walking with Ghosts -The Gift’ raises the tempo a little with Bill Kibby’s guitar gracing the mix before another memorable tune makes an immediate impact upon the listener while the guitar contributions continue to impress throughout.
‘Walking with Ghosts – Acheron’ slows the pace right down as the piano returns, eventually backed by strings and a more melancholic, downbeat melody emerges cross fading into the finale, ‘Walking with Ghosts – C ‘est la vie’. Carrying a church like organ into the opening section the sound becomes progressively more expansive as guitar and percussion return until around 2 minutes 46 the track winds down suddenly into an impressionistic, downbeat ending.
Thus ends a very impressive album. On ‘Walking With Ghosts’ David Wright’s influences and the valuable input of all the guest musicians create a diverse but creatively consistent set but above all it is here that the composer’s own style and vision emerges triumphantly.
In David Wright’s own words ‘Ultimately though,’Walking with Ghosts’ is a collection of songs; songs that I hope are thought provoking and to which you the listener will attach his or her own emotional interpretation’. This is achieved and much more. Much more! Even if David Wright’s output has not appealed to you in the past this is worth your attention and deserves a place in your collection.
Sylvian Lupari – Guts Of Darkness: –
The music of David Wright is often categorized as “New Age”, presumably because so called “experts” believe that harmonious and melodic music can only be classified thus. Moving works like “Voices” by Vangelis and “The Songs of Distant Earth” by Mike Oldfield were also wrongly catalogued as being New Age. The simple truth is though, these works are quite simply jewels of tenderness and authentic classics of the modern era! And “Walking with Ghosts” sits equally alongside these mythical works and will exceed the wear of time because of the beauty, emotion and originality contained on the album.
A strident synth opens “Going Down”, where the reverberations stretches in fine loops, flooding whispered voices in a strange atmosphere. This dark intro is abruptly awakened by the sharp percussions of “A Certain Malaise”, which open the doors to a more intense rhythm. The first 5 tracks present a sort of galactic western flavour with Bil Kibby’s superb guitar, slamming percussions and layers of floating synths. A twangy guitar melts into a stroboscopic sequencer on “Road to Nowhere”, where Andy Lobban’s glorious guitar enhances the melodious themes, and percussion and a galloping rhythm are overlaid with a spectral synth and a syncopated sequencer and a stunning synthesized lead line. “Midnight in the Shadow of Temptation and Delight” slows down the tempo with a floating atmosphere and a bluesy guitar. Beautiful gliding pads and the cry of a solitary guitar are joined by a progressive bass which rebuilds the rhythm for “Return of the Nomad”, a title definitely more intense, with delirious percussion, beautiful floating synth layers and furious guitar solos. A striking start, where 17 minutes fly by like a bat out of hell.
“Beyond Paradise” and “Night Moves” are two titles of supreme magnetism. A beautiful theremin melody with harmonious sequencing gives a heartbreaking theme that touches the soul. The mellotrons strings raise the hairs on the back of the neck with the kind of softness to bring you to tears. And when you think you’ve reached the pinnacle of sensitivity, a saxophone gently whispers its spectral breath to make us sigh and take us even higher. This is a ballad to take you over the edge. Absolutely sublime.
After this heartrending and emotional passage, we enter the atmospheric phase of Walking with Ghosts, with “Darklands”. A beautiful piano, wrapped in layers of synths and strings is used to guide us. Although Melodious, its style is minimalism, and it cleverly uses strange and gentle sound effects, as if drifting through a parallel world of nostalgia.
Synthetic sighs invisibly connect us to the next track, where the ghostly violin of Ciona Lee harmonises with the guitar of Andy Lobban on “Flame Sky”. A very atmospheric title with a strange but highly effective strummed Eastern percussion.
Andy Lobban’s superb guitar accompanies us again on “No More Angels”, a dark and almost foreboding piece. Although it’s full of atmosphere and shadows, it also has an unsettling beauty. Slowly building on layers of strings added to by mellotron, lonely piano and a solitary sax. “Too late now!” Concludes this portion in a strange, atmospheric effects cloud, opening the door to Walking with Ghosts, the title track.
Bird song and church bells pave the way to part 1 “Penumbra”, a melodious piano which enchants by its clearness and its classical sonority. So beautiful, so sublime yet so sad, and we understand why because the artist wrote this music after September 11th. Woven in the shade of a delicate, organ like synth with dark sonorities, this superb musical serenade flows with delicate harmony, added to by gentle and subtle celestial voices. The dream stops abruptly and we’re in to part two, “The Gift”, which embraces a syncopated sequence where the orchestrations are joined by Bill Kibby’s excellent lead guitar. The track develops a Jarre like pacing and is joined by a weaving bass line, again courtesy of Bill Kibby. An animated rhythm builds, developing the themes, now joined by strong synth lead line that fades into a rain storm and crosses divinely, with melancholy piano and guitar, back to the beautiful melody that introduced us to this walk with ghosts. We hear again the beauty of the main theme in part 3 “Acheron”, reaching a soft finale which tears at our soul before moving into the the big orchestration finale of the final part “C’est la Vie” which makes this walk with ghosts, the most beautiful of walks.
I have discovered this album 5 years after its release. So if, by reading this review, you understand that my ears have enjoyed and described a pure masterpiece, then you must seek out and own this album.
Wind and Wire –
Review by Wind and Wire.com
David Wright’s extremely ambitious album Walking With Ghosts is more like three or four “mini” albums. For one thing, it’s between 74 and 75 minutes long! But what I mean by my comment is how the recording has discernible “movements” as it tracks through its fifteen songs. Besides that analytical statement, I can also testify that this is a brilliant CD as well. Even the songs that I cared for less than others are still clearly superior music. And most of what is here (and at almost 75 minutes, that’s a lot of music) is absolutely fantastic. I’m sure I played this thing at least ten to fifteen times before writing this review. Some of the songs on this album are among the best cuts I heard all of last year.
Once you clear the opening short spacey/ambient piece (“Going Down?”), the first “movement” (tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, titled “A Certain Malaise,” “Road to Nowhere (A Nomadic Tale),” “Midnight in the Shadow of Temptation and Delight” and “Return of the Nomad”) features upbeat, punchy, catchy, rhythm-driven British EM (British EM differs in feel and texture from German/Berlin-school EM in several hard-to-describe but recognizable ways). There is a scattering of slight Germanesque sequencer work, but it’s slight and not dominant at all. Later passages in this movement features some of the same musical “themes” from earlier, but slows them down and adds tasty proggish guitar (Andy Lobban and Bill Kibby take turns throughout the album on electric guitar – and sometimes the guitar work is pronounced, so if you dislike stinging electric leads, be forewarned that some of the songs on Walking With Ghosts do rock!). Before track 5 is over, though, we’re back into even higher energy propulsive EM than the opening section.
The second movement starts with track 6 (“Beyond Paradise”) and here Wright weaves a gently loping and highly melodic web of new age keyboards mixed with subtle EM rhythms. The melodic refrain is handled first by pretty synth strings and later by what sounds like a sampled Theremin! This movement concludes on the next track and thematic elements are played around with for a bit by a sensuous sax sample – but it’s not jazzy though and the Theremin does most of the interpreting of the theme.
“Darklands,” (track 8) as you might expect from its title, takes the album into darker territory. Minor tonalities, doses of melancholy, subdued soaring electric guitar leads and mournful echoed piano all contribute to a bleak yet beautiful slice of ambient/EM/new age music. This “movement” is less distinct than what has come before; in fact, Wright’s use of repeated refrains and motifs surfaces less frequently from here on until track 12. “No More Angels” (track 10) is highlighted by Andy Lobban’s sterling guitar work. This song is much more guitar-oriented than most of the others on the CD. Sad-sounding prog-rockish guitar mixes with spacey keyboards, but once again Wright finds a way to always interject a sense of beauty even when things are mournful. The piece gets fairly energetic at times during the song’s seven-plus minutes, but nothing frenetic or too loud.
The last four tracks are a suite of sorts, all titled “Walking with Ghosts,” followed by a sub-title (“Penumbra,” “The Gift,” “Acheron,” and “C’est la vie”). As a thematic suite, it’s magnificent. The music has an almost neo-classical feel as it begins with piano and a very subtle undercurrent of keyboards that slowly grows to include lush strings. The repeating motif reminded me somewhat of Philip Glass at times. The next track has the same “feel” but ramps it all up by adding stinging electric guitar leads and pulsing synths/synth-beats. Drama is underscored and bold-faced by Wright’s great use of synth string sections playing short bowed chords. The third song slows down and brings spacey synth effects into play against the muted guitar work, along with a backdrop of thunder and falling rain. Piano eventually comes to the forefront as the cut once again moves into somber and melancholic soundscape territory. As this song transitions to the last cut, broad sweeping strings (bowed and plucked) impart a strong classical texture, which only increases with a beautiful oboe sample. Massive-sounding cathedral-style organ takes over the melodic refrain in a blaze of dramatic thunder, along with analog-synth notes, church organ, pulsing EM beats, piano and who knows what else, all repeating the musical motif that was introduced back in the first track of the suite. Before the end, though, things subside into a quiet stillness before a final mini-crescendo.
I normally refrain from listing so much specific detail about an album’s music in my reviews these days, but a work as artistically complex and emotionally satisfying as Walking with Ghosts deserves the “full treatment,” as it were. Wright’s liner notes infer that he put his whole heart and soul into this recording, drawing on his many musical influences and recording parts of it all over the world from 1998 to 2002. I can believe it.
This album is an amazing feat of both technical wizardry (the recording sounds awesome on headphones) and artistic soul-baring. Seldom does overt electronic music reflect this level of genuine emotion. Veering from sincerely powerful to joyously affirming to somberly tragic, yet beautifully haunting throughout, Walking with Ghosts is a landmark piece of work. Highly recommended.
Backroads (USA) –
A spectacular fusion of ambient atmospherics, new age, space music and upbeat dynamics”.
Bear, WWSU radio (USA). –
“The Fantasy Excursion disc of the year – an incredible musical voyage”.
“Powerful, dreamy and highly original”
Wade Gordon – (USA) Sound Explorer radio –
“A stunning album! Wade Gordon – (USA) Sound Explorer radio
Steve Roberts, Sequences/SMD –
“Terrific, an instrumental gem” – Steve Roberts, Sequences/SMD (UK) review
Cue Records (Germany) –
This is something really special”. Cue Records (Germany) review
USA Liquid 8 Records (USA) –
“A Great album! ken Onstad – USA Liquid 8 Records (USA)
EM Visions (USA) –
“A fantastic work” – EM Visions (USA)