It seems lately I’ve had more of an opportunity than has ever previously been possible to find time to be introspective and internally searching and curious; I imagine most of this has to do with the excessive amounts of free time I’ve had on my hands and my continuing battle with intermittent insomnia, but it also feels like GREYGHOST are egging me on a little bit in their sophomore LP Meditations on Mindfulness. Carving out vast and timeless vistas of sound, it’s difficult to avoid getting caught up in its faded and inward-facing motions, its elongate drones dangling their feet off of the proverbial cliff of the subconscious.
Opener “Intro To Breathwork” is titled appropriately enough but something of an odd beginning, making it sound like we’re going to descend into a Downtempo or Future Garage album in its whispery, reverbed, preparatory recordings and metered, slow breathing. Abyssal drones pad the backfield slightly, creating a dark and unnerving back-drop as we prepare to descend into ourselves, but there’s a certain sense of restraint and calm rather than anxiety and fear. The 15 minutes of followup “Deep Water, Lamurian Tides” makes this sensation of bliss and coolness well established across its luxurious span; weaving slow turnings of careful guitar drone it effortlessly expands our mind’s eye, everything lost in a deep sea of reverb and satisfying darkness, broken only by creaking intrusions towards the end of its span as it leans towards suggestions of nothings. It’s the epitome of this measured introspection, barely evolving across its breadth and not even needing to, satisfied and comfortable in its place.
The 23 minute album dominator “Temple Of The Clouds” also employs similarly expansive and atmospheric guitar drones, but instead of the murky and watery abyss of “Deep Water”, it comes through with a drier, more faded and ancient lilt to it, as something golden yet tired and aged, slowly lost to the menace of time. Despite this it presents itself in a wholly lighter and more empowered way, with processed synth flutters cutting a tiny dent into the baked-in drones but also by mixing the core of the guitar work up slightly, inducing turbulence through deeply reverbed rumblings and warblings; identities and past events smeared into the background noise. A distant melody, some tiny twinklings, can be heard right at the end as we begin to fade away, a faint light at the end of tunnel as we begin to fall away from distant memory and back to reality, a glimmering hope in this foggy innerspace.
And we can’t forget the progressive sequences of mid-album “March Towards Time”, a direct and very to-the-point piece caught between these two languid juggernauts, breaking out of the transcendental fluffiness into murky, warped guitar janglings and distant tribal rhythms to supplement the lo-fi drone notes hovering menacingly overhead. There’s a certain anxiety felt here that isn’t seen elsewhere, a desire to not feel trapped or locked in, a desire to feel proactive and bring the fight to it rather than submit and succumb.
Those who heard Christopher King’s gorgeous Online Architecture under his new alias Symbol earlier this year will find something rather reminiscent here, smearing out vaguely satisfied but strangely dystopic guitar into gigantic, expressive movements tinged with melancholy. Or perhaps fans of Belong will find something in these arguably more luxurious and downtempo creations, carving out that same sort of minimal introspection but taking it to the next level in terms of innate length. It’s a truly beautiful and delicate record that’s really designed to let you bask in its warm currents as you sit quietly and muse, leaving lots of breathing room to allow ourselves to slip away at our own pace.