James Murray: Ghostwalk

"Ghostwalk" is such a radical departure from the previous work British composer James Murray has released, most recently on his own Slowcraft label, that it would have been understandable had he decided to issue it under a new alias. In contrast to the guitar-oriented soundscaping that's been a primary focus for Murray, the EP, which augments his clubby original with remixes by Kinosura (Arnaud Galoppe, Aurélien Galoppe, and Audric Galoppe) and Martin Nonstatic (Martin Van Rossum), shuffles the deck entirely in substituting six-strings with electronica-styled atmospheres, kinetic bass grooves, and synthetic textures. Put simply, “Ghostwalk” sounds a little bit like some previously unreleased Deadbeat-Pole collaboration the ~scape label might have issued during its halcyon days.

Murray's cut lunges from the gate with a propulsive throb until the tune's haunting theme asserts itself, momentarily arresting the forward thrust until the commanding groove re-enters. With subtle percussive touches flooding the stereo field, the track exudes a multi-dimensional depth that's light years removed from a skeletal techno production, and Murray works into its arrangement enough build-ups and strip-downs to hold one's attention for the full seven-minute run. Up next, Kinosura exchanges the insistent momentum of Murray's treatment for a less frenetic shuffle that sees a thudding house-inflected stomp battered by a non-stop parade of dubby flourishes; the Martin Nonstatic version, on the other hand, re-establishes the original's haunting character whilst also giving the material a brooding quality that makes it feel like something emerging from a city's deserted streets during its darkest hours.

Of course, it would be premature to draw grand conclusions about how exactly Eyes to the Height, the imminent full-length (also on the France-based Ultimae Records imprint) from which “Ghostwalk” is taken, will sound based on the evidence of a single track. But there's no denying that the transfixing cut is quite unlike anything Murray's released before.

September 2016