Ghost Culture: Serious Saudade

Music — 13.08.15

Words by Kasia Pawlowska
Images by Jenna Foxton

Countless musicians spend years grappling with the desire to craft a signature style without having to compromise their artistic integrity, so to see someone produce work that’s instantly distinguishable and consistent in its sound is highly atypical – yet this is exactly what happens on Ghost Culture’s self-titled debut. Before becoming Ghost Culture, James Greenwood (no relation to the other famous musical Greenwoods) was working as a studio engineer on other people’s albums, including Daniel Avery’s breakout Drone Logic. It was actually Avery that brought Greenwood’s work to producer Erol Alkan’s attention, who ended up releasing the Ghost Culture LP on his Phantasy label. And analogue electronica fans can rejoice (!) as the diversity on the album foreshadows a promising career for the artist.

The opening “Mouth” commands attention with a heavy-but-spritely groove that’s punctuated by bubbling bleeps, while a smooth synth coupled with echoing vocals make “Giudecca” feel detached and melancholic, like your world be like if you lived inside a Patrick Nagel painting. It has to be noted that the majority of the album feels quite nostalgic, but it’s more like nostalgia for something that never happened, and fortunately, the Portuguese have a word for the feeling – Saudade.

With its woozy organs and uneven tempo, “Glaciers” has that grimy lounge sound that gives us serious saudade about that time we sat in a bathtub with pearls strung around our neck, crying with mascara smudges streaming down our face, highball in hand, cigarette in the other. Ghost Culture proves to be an appropriate moniker as he shapes an intimate and seemingly familiar space that pulls listeners in close and leaves them with lingering chills as his melodies resonate long after the track is over.