Review – “Une année à Moncton” – Starving Ghosts

reviewed by Jeremy Ramos-Foley

Starving Ghosts portray a lonely, isolated soul in the dead of winter on Une année à Moncton, a compilation that showcases various tracks off their four full-length releases from last year. Ranging from short, succinct motifs to long, sprawling drone epics, the instrumentals move like weather patterns with sunny guitars patiently rolling into stormy, thunderous drones. Though the grey clouds hardly let up, a few bright passages in the album’s seemingly darkest spots deliver their own small triumphs, making for extremely satisfying mood shifts.

The album opens in dreamy stillness, as “Past Apartment” introduces a shy, ethereal guitar that descends and decays into layers of additional finger-picked arpeggios and hypnotic swells. One shouldn’t feel too at ease though, as Starving Ghosts turn this dream into a waking nightmare with the aptly-titled “Drops.” In contrast to the opener’s calm guitars, sharp nail-biting piano stabs similarly descend and decay, but this time down a dark, winding stairwell. Later, playful, curious synthesizers and throbbing bass expand the track to third person, as we gain some perspective on our haunting surroundings.

At 23 minutes long, the album’s grand centerpiece, “This attic smells terrible…” moves in two parts. Chaotic drones initially fluctuate in volume and intensity only to subtly drift into the distance, making way for the track’s glorious triumph of a middle eight with its booming drums and hopeful guitars. Cinematic in structure, the number begins like a close-up of a spinning top becoming shakier as gravity and momentum betray one another. By the second half, our range widens as we slowly zoom out to a wide panorama of a larger than life post-rock nebula. If there’s a single greatest strength Starving Ghosts possess, it’s the ability to broaden a song’s scope by transforming a lonely drone into a massive wall of sound.

Across the eight icy, distant instrumentals lies a heart beating for anyone still listening. Achieving everything a compilation should, Une année à Moncton highlights the best Starving Ghosts have to offer from their 2017 releases.

Top Tracks: “Past Apartment”; “This attic smells terrible, you ought to open a window instead of playing trumpet and throwing a party”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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