Now THIS is innovation, and it has never been so tasty. Anup Sastry, the drumming prodigy and programming genius behind Ghost, has blown all previous precedents that drummers can’t play guitar completely out of the water. His approach, however, is not one of a traditional avenue. For those of you unfamiliar with Anup’s unique approach, this fine fellow records his own guitar samples and layers and programs them over some of the grooviest percussion patterns you’ll find on this side of the Milky Way.
I swear I really tried to find a song (or even a section of a song) on this album that I could tell someone about that wasn’t my favorite, but they’re all just so damn good! The grooves are endless, the guitars are crisp and refreshing, and the production is crystal clear. Anup is paving a way for a new type of production that is so utterly unique and tasteful that I’m sure we’ll be seeing more follow in his footsteps.
The opening track, “Legend,” starts with an ominous open chord before pummeling your ears into the first section of brutally groove-riddled riffage, shortly following with a toned down yet aggressive melodic progression, and then jumping right back into the tasteful technicality that Anup is so well known for. “Legend” completes the extremely beautiful task of introducing the listener to everything this album is about without overloading the senses; groove, subtle technicality, and interesting aural soundscapes are abundantly accessible throughout the entire listen and never once do they become dull or repetitive.
Aggression begins to shine through the compositions with “Limitless,” “The Boss Level,” and “Wastelands” where Anup really starts to show how unrelenting his profoundly delicate concern to detail can truly be. Yet, the true aggression rears it’s beautifully disfigured head in the form of “Reflex,” which is extremely reminiscent of the likes of Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavor’s. Is there a bit of coincidence here? Maybe, but as a musician myself, I can say that working with other musicians can influence your own writing style. In this instance, it’s very refreshing to hear the influence of someone who is equally as authoritative in the independent online community affect someone else’s work.
Anup allows for a bit of breathing room with songs like “Discovery” and “Skywalker,” where some larger open chordal passages make up most of the compositional construct. My first impression of these two songs was that the technicality was turned down a little, but then I realized that it was simply Anup weaving it into the song in such a way that I didn’t even know it was happening! I can’t say it enough: this album is loaded to the brim with groove. My personal favorite, “Crystal,” is extremely elegant and sophisticated on a level that I cannot even begin to describe. Every note, transition, and build up is so carefully placed that it oozes perfection from every auditory angle. I challenge you to listen to this entire album without finding yourself bobbing your head at least once.
The title track, “Ghost,” portrays everything about Anup’s tech groove jive that you really need to know. Beautiful, electronic-influenced harmonies, layered over hostile guitar progressions, and again, some of the grooviest percussion passages you ears will ever be blessed with. Starting roughly a third of the way through the song and continuing until the 50% mark, the rhythm section is heavily reminiscent of Meshuggah’s “Bleed,” and even though I say this now, it wasn’t until about the sixth full listen I had given the song that I truly realized it.
Anup Sastry’s Ghost is the kind of sophisticated influence that musicians should employ; there is a very fine line between the cliché “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and flat-out “this sounds way too much like Band X.” Meshuggah is really good at being Meshuggah. Anup is really good at being Anup. If you’re a musician and you’re reading this, you should be really good at being YOU! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; letting a little innovation into the mix never killed anyone. Now stop reading and go to Anup’s bandcamp page to download this album in all of it’s groove-ness!