A mystifying journey into the celestial unknown as Ghosts in the Clocktower present a satisfying array of complex IDM and hauntingly melodic ambience.
'Having made a name for himself with Worms of the Earth, exploring the dark realms of decrepit noise and nightmarish ambience, Dan Barrett’s more celestial IDM personality with Ghosts in the Clocktower has only marginally seen the light of day. With split-EPs released with Gaels and Protoleet, the more rhythmically complex and melodic aspects to Barrett’s music came to the fore, and with I: Enroute, Ghosts in the Clocktower embarks on a conceptual journey toward self realization. With Barrett and band mate Michael Sciortino taking the roles of interplanetary scientists sent to investigate the ghostly remnants of the lost vessel, known as the Clocktower, I: Enroute marks the first chapter of “transmissions” documenting the voyage.
“Transmission A001211” begins eerily with a cold wave of ethereal pads and distorted voices, evoking the vastness of the cosmos and setting the stage for the skittering rhythms and reverberating synths of “Ae1 Ghoeb,” filling the listener with a simultaneous sense of chilled calm and tense trepidation. “71T 09-NE4” shifts between the distant percussive echoes of what could be otherworldly voices or perhaps they are the malfunctions of a damaged computer system, waves of colorful ambience creating a melodic backdrop that is at once haunting and soothing, while the hollow whispers and slivers of ghostly chorale of “Euraph-5µ” evoke mystery and wonder. The album takes a turn with the static noise of “Transmission M190312” disconcertingly preparing the listener for the ominously cavernous “Menrva (Titan),” with “V4641 Sgr (2nd Approach)” segueing us into a pulsating array of splendidly complex beat structures and creepy melodies to end the first chapter of this exploration. With c0ma’s reconstruction of “V4641 Sgr” opting for a simpler beat to place emphasis on the ambient passages and glitch-laden voices and c.db.sn’s ethereal and punchy Coal Creek Treatment of “Ae1 Ghoeb,” I: Enroute rounds out to be an impressive listen.
The album is an exercise in pure audio astronomy as deep, harmonious atmospheres converge with cleverly arranged glitches and beats that keep the listener constantly guessing in what direction the music will take, yet grounding them in melodic familiarity. Free from the horrific and mythological constraints of Worms of the Earth, Barrett with Sciortino create their own cosmic mythos with Ghosts in the Clocktower, presenting the cold logic and scientific wonder reminiscent of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke with just enough alienation to instill a sense of fear of the unknown so intrinsic to Barrett’s usual oeuvre.'