Review: Watercolour Ghosts – 'Watercolour Ghosts' EP

Watercolour Ghosts have reissued their self-titled debut EP, with 5 songs in a style that’s difficult to pigeon-hole, but easy to enjoy. The band is a project formed out of Deadspace, Vespers Descent, and Chaos Devine, amongst others out of Perth, Australia. If you’ve ever been to Western Australia, the first thing you notice is that it’s different from the rest of Australia, unique in fact. No surprise then that Watercolour Ghosts are a different proposition from the rest of Australia, and do not conform to the traditional rock roots.

The first thing you notice is the mix, which caught me off guard, and actually messed with my enjoyment of the first track ‘Like Animals’. The production is unusual in many ways, and only by getting good quality ear buds did I appreciate what was going on. It’s a subtle, melodic opening but understated, calm, and distorted. The vocals are like far off chants, underscored with tangled guitars, that drift on for the full 4 minutes of the song. I listened again and again and again. What was that?

Next track, and I’m nervous as this is new territory for someone who thinks he has heard it all. ‘Breathe’ is more complex again, layers upon layers. It’s a far more tense affair, with the vocal working against the melody, but there are no solos, no breakaway vocals, but a weave building to a crescendo. Then all stops at just under 5 minutes. Has that much time passed? I’ll listen to that again and get a better handle on what’s going on.

Too late. We sway into the third track ‘Collapse’, which opens with a simple riff that fades away to dominating vocals that plead for something. I’m listening to that guitar build. This is going to go off, but we retreat back to the vocal, this time the bass chimes in and drives us along. Then we fade at 4 minutes. You know what; I am actually getting hooked on the fact that nothing is familiar here. As we burst into track 4 ‘Despondent’, we could still be in the previous track. Am I listening to a movie soundtrack as this is intense and fraught? I would say emotional but I wouldn’t know which emotion to pick. We ebb and flow through the track with the jangling guitars of Grant Burns and Shannon Over start to dominate with the vocal trying to catch up. We fade at 5 minutes and I’ve taken a note to listen to that one again…

So last track,‘Solipsism’. This is the theory that the self is ALL that can be known to exist. So we shoegaze our way through this, with the lyrics struggling with loneliness, but I can sense anger is building. I can feel it. This layercake of melody has to break into an onslaught, a frenzy perhaps? Stop, all done at just over 5 minutes. I’ve had this review on my desk for one day. I have listened to this at least a dozen times, possibly more. I do not know why I enjoy it, but I do. I honestly don’t know if this could build to a full album, as there is not enough variation but I do know that I am drawn to this Watercolour Ghosts EP, and I’m not sure why. I’m also not sure how these guys would go on the bill of the standard multi-band tours in Australia at the moment, but this deserves to be heard. In a world with so much digital music, we skim across EPs and albums looking for the hooks, and that does not help these guys. If Watercolour Ghosts want to take this further then there has to be a break, a lift, and a pay off for the listener who needs to feel rewarded for putting in the time to listen. In many ways this recording is unique and I’m quite prepared to change and add this to my playlist. Right, back to track 1. Let’s try this again.

Review: Craig Grant


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