Ghost Signs – A Temporary Loss of Transience

ghost signsAt first blush, Belfast’s Ghost Signs appears to be playing a bit of a joke on us with this new release title. A Temporary Loss of Transience, put another way, is a short-term break from the absence of permanence.

That somewhat circular definition may be entirely appropriate given Ghost Signs’ penchant for tape and guitar loops. Or perhaps there’s another explanation.

The album’s notes outline four big ideas.

First, “[s]leeping can be a form of emotional escape …” A lot of us can relate to that. Rest has more than just physical benefits.

Second, “[Sleeping] can with sustained effort be abused [and] purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape.” Sleep interruption has long been utilized as a torture technique. It has profoundly negative effects on the victim, as any new parent will tell you.

Third, “Modern man is a victim of emptiness – he is a man devoid of meaning.” That sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s an important statement. The notes go on to lay out an argument that the pervasive sense a lot of us have of being busy is simply a function of our trying to fill an “inner void.

“He seeks some deeper and more fulfilling attraction. He is available, and ready to listen to propaganda. He is the lonely man, and the larger the crowd in which he lives the more isolated he is.” We generally associate loneliness with being physically alone. That’s a false assumption.

Seki Takashi explored a similar theme on his beautiful recording Think. Describing life in Tokyo, Takashi wrote: “I pass a lot of people in the city every day. But I do not interact with anyone.”

Finally, this: “That loneliness inside the crowd is perhaps the most terrible ordeal of modern man; that loneliness in which he can share nothing, talk to nobody, and expect nothing from anybody.”

How do we connect all this to the idea of a short-term loss of impermanence? For me, the intermittent periods of permanence come nightly, between about midnight and 7 am. They also come during personal interactions. Those rare moments when we feel we genuinely connect with another person.

But don’t take my word for it. This elegant two-piece recording delivers plenty of inspiration to explore all of this and more. Featuring tape loops, feedback, drones and guitar riffs, the work is thoughtful and expansive.

There’s a rawness to both pieces that listeners who’ve experienced sleep deprivation will relate to immediately. The clouded thinking, the grit-in-your-eyes headache, it’s all expressed over the course of these 49 beautiful minutes.

Kevin Press

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