Album Reviews

Various – The Black Ghosts Mixtape

(Southern Fried) UK release date: 10 March 2008

Various - The Black Ghosts Mixtape With Jas Shaw and James Ford ploughing such a rich furrow as Simian Mobile Disco, it was always going to be interesting to see what their ex-Simian band mate Simon Lord could come up with. While he has admittedly been kept busy with numerous solo projects, this is his biggest venture since the band days – and it’s big in every way. For, like Shaw and Ford, Lord is making up for lost time by joining Theo Keating for a monstrously big party.

There’s little room for subtlety here, but then a mixtape for Southern Fried never was going to be about tea and biscuits. No, this is a compilation stitched roughly together in the bedroom, made and executed on seemingly primitive equipment. Sure, it means the mixing isn’t always top drawer as the coarse riffs are unfurled, but that’s a small price to pay for all the shots of adrenalin the two deliver. Like Simian Mobile Disco the pair clearly enjoy the influences of late 1980s dance music, whether in their own tunes or those of Alter Ego and Armand Van Helden.

Big bass lines clash with shards of house, broken beat and heavy guitar licks, though the Ghosts are careful not to overdo the weighty lines. If it all threatens to get a bit too much they can opt out for brief diversions of more soulful house from the likes of Ben Westbeech, or the out and out glam disco strut of Lord Skywave.

As for the Ghosts’ own material, that gets plenty of exposure either in remix form or original. Frankmusik‘s Three Little Words becomes a tense acidic number, while Trabant find themselves wound up with elastic on The One. Something New is a fine Ghosts track though, and the stand-out on the record, winding through weird harmonic contours.

It’s a bumpy ride, the first Black Ghosts mix, lurching from one style of music to another, but the bruises picked up along the way are the result of collisions on the dancefloor. Lord and Keating share the same two-fingered party spirit as their contemporaries, and aren’t afraid to show it. Brash and unrefined, they’ll soundtrack many a messy party before the summer is out.

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Various – The Black Ghosts Mixtape