Christian Kleine: Real Ghosts
City Centre Offices

Christian Kleine is a highly regarded figure in melodic electronic music circles, having contributed guitar to Arovane's Tides, collaborated with Thaddeus Herrmann on Our Noise, and released Valis and Beyond Repair under his own name. With Real Ghosts, Kleine accords a greater emphasis than before to non-computer instruments and especially guitar, a change signaled at the outset by “Home.” After a one-minute intro of becalmed Rhodes sprinkles, huge snare thwacks, and raw guitars indicate that Real Ghosts will leave behind the more contained atmospheres of Kleine's previous work; it's a heavy head-nodder yet still retains a melancholy core common to the melodic electronica genre. Heavy guitars appear on “Shifts of Wood” too, but the ante is upped most severely on “Ghostwriting” where Kleine does a convincing Sonic Youth impression by including roaring, abrasive guitars. Not all of the pieces are so aggressive. “R Last” pairs synth-based Tangerine Dreaming with delicately plucked guitars, while the samba rhythms and hand percussion in “Tastetouch” exude an exotic ambiance.

Unquestionably, Kleine fashions delectable atmospheres and grooves but Real Ghosts is less strong in the melody and compositional departments. His luxuriant, expansive sound is equal to Ulrich Schnauss's, for example, but Kleine lacks the narrative ebb and flow that distinguishes Schnauss's songs. But what grooves! Take “Like the Clouds, Like the Sky,” for example, which begins with textured ambient soundscaping but then segues into a gorgeous mellow funk rhythm sweetened by harps and bubbling bass lines. Likewise, the classic warm electronic style of “Handsome Used” showcases crunchy bass-driven grooves and its dreamy washes reverberate brightly, but again the emphasis is primarily on groove. “Stations” is equally propulsive, as is the funky hip-hop of “Shifts of Wood.” Ultimately the pieces impress as mood pieces rather than full-fledged compositions, a lack that makes Real Ghosts a good recording as opposed to a great one. The best Kleine work to these ears remains Our Noise as its tracks are fully-developed songs as opposed to mere grooves.

November 2004