- A little over two years ago, Robert Henke released Silence, the seventh Monolake album and the first in what has recently been revealed as a trilogy of full-length works. The sounds of Silence came with a fragment of writing that provided a cinematic element to that album's lush, delicate atmosphere: "The mountains made me feel light, happy and small … and the gods were with us." Things have certainly changed in 2012 with Ghosts, the second chapter of the trilogy. "How I hate those dirty little flies," reads the text, ostensibly setting the album within a sticky jungle realm. "Impossible to sleep, it is too hot, no wind … and the gods are laughing at us."
Unsurprisingly, Ghosts is a demanding journey through the dark side of Henke's computer wizardry. It begins with the title track—a stormy drum & bass session with an eerie vocal line—but the unnerving vibe really creeps in with the countless little creatures of "Toku," which emerge underneath a hypnotic set of high-frequency whistles.
Like Silence, most of Ghosts' tracks weigh in at less than six minutes—continuing a shift away from the lengthy soundscapes of prior Monolake works—and both albums spend most of their time swung quite heavily at 140 BPM. Compared to Silence, however, the tools that Henke now employs cut even deeper, as evidenced in the deliciously crisp growls and vocal cascades of "Hitting the Surface," and "The Existence of Time," whose sub-bass grinds away like a maniacal floor buffer.
Henke is no stranger to ambient-oriented excursions (check Silence's romantic centerpiece "Void," for example), and Ghosts is at its most haunting when the beat drops away completely, as on "Phenomenon" and "Unstable Matter." The former leads off with a dubwise bass riff that slowly disappears under a chorus of anxious, otherworldly moans. Then there's "Unstable Matter," whose twisted found-sound elements create what might just be one of Monlake's most suspense-laden tracks ever.
"Foreign Object" closes out the album; made mere hours before being sent off for mastering, it's a thrilling conclusion that should leave listeners on the brink of exhaustion. Escape is the working title for the third and final part of this album trilogy, and it's sure to be eagerly anticipated, whenever it comes out. Until then, we have another excellent long player to savor from Monolake.
04. Hitting the Surface
06. The Existence of Time
08. Unstable Matter
10. Aligning the Daemon
11. Foreign Object