Sunset Graves – Form Your Ghost (3rd and Debut)

Hugely recommended second album of cinematic electronica

Released Jun 9th, 2014 via 3rd and Debut Records / By Larry Day
Sunset Graves – Form Your Ghost  (3rd and Debut) Cinematic electronica-er Sunset Graves – by day, known by his alter-ego as Andy Fosberry – made his mark on 2013 with a stunning debut LP. Arriving belatedly after an expansive release history, Variant proved Fosberry was/is a formidable force in the realms of expansive music – post-rock, downtempo trip-hop and sweeping film-esque electro noises all commingle as if in a sordid tryst. It makes for a wondrous new brand of hu-u-uge (that's a three syllable 'huge') music, which, when we're oversaturated with these styles, is also refreshingly invigorating.

For his second full-length, coming less than a year after its predecessor, Form Your Ghost builds on those foundations and opening gambits that Fosberry proffered with Variant, adding a few new elements, but mostly just tinkering with his initial formula. Think of this as Phase Two. In this chapter of his career, he opts for subtlety, dramatic slow-burns and exotic noodling. There are scattershot samples of vocals, a quasi-return to his roots, but on the whole, it's instrumental and the spotlight lingers on his ability to conjure massive emotional trauma and vivid visions using only sonic illusions.

'Ache Like Eye', which sounds like a Scottish idiom, is perhaps one of the best representations of those themes and ideas that Fosberry summons on the entire record. There's copious homage-ery to Bristol's '90s heyday, with Lamb, Portishead and Massive Attack being notable reference points – the synths are enormous and hulking, the drums skitter and blossom like slowed-down hip-hop. It's exceedingly visual, with low-key romantic/erotic notes and an overwhelming sense of impending danger. The hacked'n'screwed vocals that interject every now and again feel like howls of pain, either heartache or more physical agony. Either way, it's harrowing.

Rhythm and pace are a big deal in Fosberry's music. 'A Love Awake' uses metronomic thumps to imbue the aquatic synths with danger; 'Last Hour Of Amber' implements skittering hi-hats and a faster, almost rock-y beat for a primal, primitive timber; even with almost non-existent percussion, 'Night Butterfly – a melange of creaks and groans – creates menace with rhythm. It's an integral portion of post-rock and trip-hop, and Fosberry wields it with aplomb.

Of course, Sunset Graves' bread 'n' butter is the swathes of cinematic noise. When he summons those sprawling paeans, Fosberry creates detailed atmospheres that, as cliché as it sounds, feel like they belong as part of a soundtrack. Form Your Ghost could be the OST for a sci-fi horror that's not yet made – a future project, perhaps? – and even sans visuals, it excels as being an imaginative, incredibly visual and intensely dramatic work of art. A must-listen for fans of electronic music.