Various Artists – Intermission (Ghost Box)


“What are the dimensions of a memory? What is its square footage and where do its boundaries lie?” Asks Justin Hopper, backed by the medieval nostalgia of Belbury Poly.

In uncertain times many of us find comfort in the past when everything was so much better. A simpler time with good honest folks and smiling faces. It’s a kind of nostalgic blindness that leaves out the inconvenient stuff, the daily grind, the struggles, the pain, if favour of airbrushing the past as a rose coloured reaction to the present. In this introduction to Intermission Hopper Speaks of gaps in memories and suggests that there’s as much richness, life and noise living in the gaps as the memories.

It’s a provocative and quite meta conception to begin a collection of tunes from a label that is renowned for its uncanny obsession with creating a yearning kind of nostalgia for a past that was never quite there. Even the title is interesting, because if ever the world needed Intermission its right now.

So who better to shepherd through these troubled times, with an exotically escapist playfully nostalgic compilation of all new works from Ghost Box alumni and friends – with either a sneak peek of forthcoming releases or material recorded specifically for this compilation.

It would be remiss to not begin with possibly the greatest song that this writer has ever heard. The weird slightly demented tape experiments of Roj (Broadcast), who’s track The Animal Door possesses a woozy kind of cartoon Joe Meek dementia that pretty much defies everything that has come before it. It’s ridiculous and addictive and worth the price of admission alone.

As if their first album in 20 odd years wasn’t enough, Plone return with another jaunty new track , whilst Berlin’s toi toi toi, delivers another two idiosyncratic sound collages that are as compelling and jaw dropping as his 2017 Ghost Box album Im Hag, where we wondered how all these disparate and playful elements made so much musical sense.

The Advisory Circle offer two pieces of what you’d swear was early 80’s earnest electronica (if such a thing existed at the time), and the results are effortlessly sweet and reverential. The ridiculously prolific Pye Corner Audio also pops up with two groove laden minimal retro futuristic dystopian jams.

With contributions of whimsical electronic sweetness from The Hardy Tree, Portuguese tropicalia exponents Beautify Junkyards, weird electronic cues from The Focus Group, and English folk singer Sharron Kraus, this is a pretty eclectic collection of tunes. Yet like everything on Ghost Box it all is infused with an often quite explicit link to the past. It feels equal parts escapist and reassuring – particularly at the moment. There’s a real joy in just submerging yourself in the nostalgic bliss. Who care if its your nostalgia or not?

All of the proceeds purchased via Ghost Box will go to Médecins Sans Frontières, or you can support the musicians themselves via all other commercial downloads and streams.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.