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Record Reviews


Ghosts Of Television
Forsaken Empire

It's all over.

In a near-perfect mix of energetic triumphs and late-night self-destructive chaos, Ghosts Of Television, one of the finest bands to ever crawl out of Sydney's alleyways and find themselves a cautiously welcoming venue, officially played their last ever show a few weeks ago in the suffocatingly overcrowded Oxford Art Factory gallery bar. Now that it's all done and an important chapter of Sydney music is closed forever, it only seems right to put together some words regarding the group's final (and debut) LP - Forsaken Empire.

Consisting of just thirty minutes of music and featuring only eight songs, the album keeps in line with the band's tradition of limiting their musical output and proudly leaving the listener frustratingly undernourished. While on the surface this might seem like an unfulfilled swan-song, the album doesn't feel at all incomplete.

In fact, with the seemingly endless array of twists and turns, Forsaken Empire fittingly sums up the band's restless nature, while at the same time - especially when held up against their early CD-R releases - showcases exactly how far they've developed creatively over the past few years.

The most notable enhancement is the abundance of ideas showcased, not only from track to track, but also often within a single composition. The LP's first half is littered with frequent abrupt changes in direction successfully creating a somewhat unsettling sense of anxiety. The harsh tempo change on Topsoil is the most obvious example, but the violent jolts of energy on Empty Thrones and Arthritis also successfully create a sense of apprehension with the listener, which in turn fully immerses them within the music itself.

The pleasant surprise of the record comes in the second half, when the band's heavy reliance on unhinged lunacy is wrestled back into line. Know Weather, the closest Ghosts Of Television have ever come to a traditional ballad, hangs on by a thread. The fragility threatens to collapse at several points, yet eventually just tapers off, perfectly bleeding into the title track, the album's definitive eight-minute epicentre. Forsaken Empire starts in a gentle ambient state, before throwing off the shackles and slowly building to the point of anarchy, with vocals, crashing drums and a small murderous riot of blood and guts pouring out in a beautifully indecipherable, schizophrenic orgasm.

With the majority of the album's lyrical style clearly in the realm of over-theatrical - almost to the point of parody - it's somewhat refreshing/ironic to hear frontman Nic De Jong mutter the words "there is not much left that I'd come home for" on the album's fittingly retrospective closer, New Flesh. While De Jong's snarling vocals have always been a menacing factor, they've never dominated as much as they do on this record, especially on these closing few tracks, where it seems as though he's clearly focusing on getting every last breathe out - no matter the cost.

It probably goes without saying, but this album isn't for everyone. As far as fitting send-offs go, however, this is right up there with The Vines' Highly Evolved (imagine that had been their last record!!!) and the band's non-linear obsession has the puzzling emotional reaction of being both enthralling, yet also unbelievably exhausting - making it one of those fascinatingly unwelcoming albums (see also: Snowman's The Horse, The Rat and The Swan). While the music's level of intensity hardly makes it suitable for daily consumption, the band have successfully created a record that not only completely absorbs the listener, but also manages to encapsulate all of the amazing elements of their unique sound, ensuring that they'll be remembered as a significant part of Sydney's music history for years to come.

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Ghosts Of Television


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