Ghost Station: Ghost Station
Lost Frequencies

Under the Ghost Station name, Pete Warren records rhythmically charged synthesizer music that harks back to the halcyon European electronic music era of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. But music aside, what makes his self-titled album even more interesting is accounting for the constraints Warren worked within when creating its ten tracks. Having undergone a professional relocation and thus no longer able to cycle to work, Warren found himself enduring a daily commute on the Tube-train from East to West London and back again. Using his time productively, he decided to compose and produce tracks during the commute, and furthermore determined that he would only allow himself to work on the material during his time on the train (the sole exception being some post-production tweaking of the final mixes before shipping the album off for mastering). A ban on synthesizer presets was imposed, and as no samples were allowed, all instrument sounds could only be generated using the software synthesizer. He also consciously sought to avoid mimicry and not fall into the too-easy trap of creating sounds that would attempt to replicate physical sounds heard during the commute.

In undertaking the project, Warren was curious to find out whether the music would either parallel the train experience in some manner or represent an escape from it. Would the rhythms of the train somehow thread their way into the compositions? Would the kinetic force of the machine likewise surreptitiously surface within the pieces Warren produced? For starters, it's hard to disassociate the futuristic gleam of the synthesizer from the notion of technological progress associated with any modern means of transportation, the train included (notwithstanding its historical traditions). Further to that, it's similarly hard to separate the metronomic propulsion generated by a synthesizer pattern and the locomotive rhythms associated with a typical train (see “Momentum”). Rather than trying to sever the connections between the music and production context, Warren encourages them in places by titling tracks “Tunnels” and “Click Clack.”

However, the material does often put considerable distance between itself and the conditions within which it came into being. There's a harrowing and nightmarish quality to “92229” that one hopes didn't find its real-world counterpart in any experience Warren actually had in his commute. Also memorable is “Electricity,”  a brooding, blustery meditation of progressively woozy disposition. Some pieces act as transporting reveries capable of liberating one from the train context (“Lines”), whereas others act as pulsating, rhythmically robust analogues to the machine's forward thrust (“Click Clack”). In the final analysis, however, what the forty-one-minute collection does more than anything else is show what a skilled and imaginative producer is capable of producing with little more than a laptop and music production software at his disposal. One is free to hear the contents of this satisfying collection, as Warren does, as “escapist atmospheric soundtracks corroded by deafening metal machine sounds” or, fascinating pretext aside, as rich, stand-alone synthesizer settings of varying character and moods.

October 2013