Disclaimer: this song is three 3 years old. But since it's only been played on SoundCloud just over 900 times... well, you know, u kno. It feels and sounds new to me. Not fresh necessarily because that's a sound in itself, but it is still in terms of fruit or vegetables "fresh" yes it's fresh. I found it when looking up some of the people/artists/acts who played at this year's JUE | Music + Art festival in Shanghai I liked the name Faded Ghost so that was one of the first musicmakers I checked out but then I just ended up trying to find the sounds of the entire lineup. Faded Ghost is the alias of Shanghai-based singer ChaCha.
Anyway! It was an immense surprise to find something so tantalising tucked away a bit of scroll down Faded Ghost's SoundCloud, a lovely gratifying surprise to discover the Ghost Ark EP which is yeah, 3 years old. But it's so experimental and searching forth for new sounds with inquisitive tendrils of exploration yet so stylised and cohesive in the atmosphere which it creates that for me it deserves for a few more people to know about this music, to hear it and breathe it in.
That is what the first track on this EP is like. It's called 'Talk To Me' and from its first wooo-eee-oooooooooo soft misty eerie chords gliding from note to note, cool and spectral, it is entering a new world, a portal of simultaneous chill and psychic reverberations. Ghostly glittering sounds, cracklings and sumptuous rainstick percussion, humble sub-bass rounding things off, those icy chimes throughout sharp and shivering, the vocals of ChaCha suddenly lancing up through the fog of sounds – growing more intense, more intense, more layers to the voice, vocodering and alarming – the synth chords taking a more abrasive turn, sawing the heavy air and seemingly echoing everywhere, all of it by the end fading out, evaporating slowly into nothingness.
Your phone hums by your left knee. Picking it up, you note its weight: you always like the weight. Someone's liked a photo on Instagram, the picture of your cat half-asleep in morning sunlight draped over the floor, a study in light and shade. More likes than usual. Notebook forgotten, you trawl Instagram, liking only the crisp, the intentional lo-fi and the well positioned. More likes pour in – pride wells up in you. The cat photo, perfect.
Checking your notifications, it's not the cat photo that's getting all the likes, but all of your photos. Every single photo gets liked in the space of a minute, all from the same account: @ – just @. Blank. Nothing. Your photos are being rapidly liked and unliked, turning on a switch of panic in your mind. You can't block the account. It has no profile.
Your notebook screen has gone black. You press a key, but nothing happens. The power button, mashing the keyboard, nothing, nothing. The phone buzzes uncontrollably.
Locked in position you feel your stomach rise, the feeling of free-fall, your mind fogs, eyes glazing, panic terror panic. The notebook screen now on but dim shows the vague outline of a face, floating. Its eyes unable to keep a steady gaze you cannot help but stare into it, your head getting closer, closer. Drawing nearer, your forehead nearly touching the screen, the woozy eyes of the ghostly face suddenly lock hard on your own eyes, force power strange. Nothing else now, nothing else but these eyes. The buzzing phone is a steady drone louder not only in your ears but everywhere, all around, in your mind, remembered and anticipated and experienced all at once. Still cross-legged somehow but face down pushing your nose and forehead into the notebook screen, straining its hinges, snapping slowly, still the face, still the face – the eyes saying something. So much loneliness, permeating your skin, seeping into your blood, mind saturated, so lonely, no friends, talk to me please PLEASE talk to me please tell me who you are what do you like doing...
A knock at the door and a muffled voice and someone enters. They see a notebook snapped in half and bedsheets in a mess and have no idea.
Or at least that's the kind of scene I envisaged when listening to this one track. The other tracks on Faded Ghost's Ghost Ark EP are well worth your time, too: there's the piano and double-bass of 'I Remember' and its spooky dark dub atmosphere; and last but not least is the eponymous 'Ghost Ark', a subterranean rumble of sub-bass, plinking purring synth glistening into the dark and night noises reverberating, muffled distorted kicks coming in later as the glitter fades and the track dims.
- Faded Ghost is the project of Shanghai-based singer ChaCha, who is much more active under her original moniker than this one here, so check out her SoundCloud.