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CD Feature/ Graham Bowers: "Eternal Ghosts"

img  Tobias

The train speeds away into the heart of the night, with my gaze transfixed to the tracks. Darkness has swallowed the last glow of the day and all I can see is a small picture framed by the outer limits of the window, scantly lit by the lanterns outside. At first, each single track is clearly sperated from its neighbour and I am still able to distinguish even the most delicate splinters in the wood and each tiny stone in the bed between the deals. Then the machinery picks up speed, the surroundings fly by in a frenzied rush and everything blurrs into a greyishly black picture of surreal intensity and nihilistic voidness. Ever faster we go, as I clasp my hands round my CD player, loosing myself in the sounds of “Eternal Ghosts”.

All good things must come to an end, but so must all things bad and frightening. If Graham Bowers really envisioned his first trilogy of works as a take on his real life, then he must have been both sad and relieved when it was over. Built like an epic saga, things kept growing darker and more claustrophobic with each volume, the arc of tension refusing to bend down again until the very last second. If “Of Mary’s Blood” was an astute and uniquely personal collage-world of harmony and naked sound and “Transgression” its bizarre and freaked-out mirror image, then “Eternal Ghosts” is a brutal exorcism. Metal hits metal in the first few seconds, intensifying and gaining volume until your ears hurt, but just before you turn the dial down, the whip stops for a second, dropping the listener into a stream of unwanted memories and mournful longings. The album is more coherent than its predecessors, yet simultaneously more heavy-hearted and unreal. Grey drones whisper and murmor in the back for almost the entire record’s duration, interspersed by clustered choirs, textured cymbalpads and weird biomechanical structures, which may come as an aural equivalent to Bower’s background as an industrial designer. The elements flow in and out of each other seemingly by a will of their own, but of course carefully placed by their creator, whose mind, plagued by visions beyond his grasp, exerts a powerful tractor beam. Towards the end, timpanis rumble and almost inaudible flutes blow out of tune towards a grand finale, which refuses to materialise. Bowers has entered the realms of the untouchable with this album and dedicated it to “flesh and blood, body and spirit” as well as “worlds without end”. Contrary to Christian doctrine, the saints are not out to save, but to get him, but they are just as real. The fact that all source material stems from “organic” instruments seems to imply that this is by no means just a bad dream or a daydreamed fantasy – but that it could happen to you, too.

In a reply to our review of “Transgression”, Bowers remarked that he actually sometimes rued his lack of classical education, that he missed its magic and thought he had come closest to it with the last segment of “Eternal Ghosts”, when Peter Gallagher’s translucent and heavenly grand piano suddenly comes shining through a sunflood cloud and closes the chapter in an unexpectedly hopeful mood. It is the sole concrete moment of a journey full of metaphors but by no means the only magical one. Things haven’t always been easy for Bowers since then, but it was clear that the tracks were now leading into the light, his train leaving the tunnel of his fearful visions.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Graham Bowers / Red Wharf
Homepage: Graham Bowers at MySpace

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