By Jerry Herrera
The title track breaks from the noirish pulse of the first track for a bit of cool synth funk, with an immediately bouncing, catchy bassline. It’s one of my favorites and goes far to show that City of Ghosts isn’t an overwrought piece of sci fi wank, but a believable place in fiction or film. Still, a synthwave release wouldn’t be the same without some good mid tempo outrun and “Lost Soul” and “Informer” deliver in spades, the latter with some ethereal guitar work adding to the neon cruise. “Changing Lanes” is more outrun but stands out from the previous two with some really wonderful melodies and thin layers of sound that come together to produce a gorgeous vision of the Skyline of Ghosts. These tracks represent travel to and from and within the titular City and all its cold, dystopian beauty.
From the streets of the City of Ghosts to perhaps the skies, we journey upward. Here Crockett blends space synth with heavy doses of ambient and minimal influences on “Fading Away,” “Dreams of Home” and “Isolation.” “Isolation” is more so of a departure from the last two because of the sad wailing of the guitar. It’s a perfect balance of a power ballad by an ‘80s hair band and the emotionless musings of a sentient machine. I think it may be my favorite track on the album because I found myself lost in the music, reflecting on nights I myself may have spent lost in the City.
Back down into the streets for some more outrun for the next several tracks which, I will admit got a bit samey on occasion but Crockett is very smart when it comes to instrumentation and will bust out that sexy guitar JUST when I was about to tune out. I suppose this is somewhat of a backwards compliment but I think it goes to show great awareness in composition and knowing the flow of your music and your overall album “map” if you will.
The final track “Out of the Shadows” revisits the same pulsing intensity that began the album. It’s the credits roll track if City of Ghosts was a film about the lives (or afterlives) of the City’s citizens. I think City of Ghosts follows a certain rhythm, a rise and fall, a guided tour of this fictional yet all too real place. It’s full of inspired moments and melodies, from cool guitar licks to progressions that take me down to the ground level and all the sights and smells one might encounter in Crockett’s vision. City of Ghosts is most definitely tech-noir, as cyberpunk as it is cybersophisticate. Wherever you fall on the synth spectrum you will find some little bit to latch onto, some line of one of City of Ghost’s many stories, and suddenly be drawn into its shimmering skyscrapers and down it’s sickly pink neon streets.
Crockett presents City of Ghosts, available for purchase on Rain Dragon Records Bandcamp page here and comes very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM.