On this remarkable album, Ghost Harmonic do not so much occupy a space as create one. The multi-dimensional compositions of Codex construct an ecosystem of sound into which the listener steps tentatively, as if walking in through the secret forbidden door of a church or cathedral stumbled upon by chance.
The structure is incomprehensibly, unfathomably vast. We lift and turn our heads, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. The tonality ranges from delicate and distant to sombre and forbidding. The stone walls breathe. Among The Pleasure Of Ruins, Diana Yukawa’s violin assumes an almost vocal form becoming like the indiscernible chant of a ghostly choir. The hiss of Dispersed Memory and the rumbling deep bass make us start, step back. Gasp. A synthesiser crashes in from nowhere, just as a thought would that we would rather not have, as if while waking. Or as we try to organise and archive our thoughts before bed. Gone in an instant, but disturbing and incongruous.
It serves to remind us that this is electronic music, and there are others involved.
“Don’t forget me” fades in static…
When We Came To This Shore is the most dynamic piece, the most challenging and tangible. The violin takes different shapes and moves around in different guises. The listening experience becomes like strolling arm in arm with Her through the quadrangle at an Oxford College. Fragments of music escape from different windows and it is hard to locate precisely which one. Thunderous, onerous. Marvellous. Those dual, mythical notes, like wingbeats. Or breath. Are they notes at all…?
There’s an oppressive quality to the final movement, and as we approach the title track we are struggling for both air and comprehension. So the lightness and colour comes as great relief, and we smile and spin around. At some indiscernible point we must have we stepped outside into a majestic avenue of trees that leads our gaze across a vista of endless, ancient ferns. Codex is enlightening, clean and vibrant.
We no longer feel mystified, threatened, confused or surrounded. There is space, and air.
Inhale deeply the fragrance of audacity, daring and confidence. Walk among the mastery of craftsmanship and creative understanding. Nod gently. Realise, and smile.
This is a living, organic work of expressive art that has taken forty years to imagine.
If you get lost, or nothing makes sense, pause. And return.
Perhaps it’s not so much impenetrable, as inevitable?
Perhaps, like me, you’ve been listening wrong…