Stray Ghost: The Avalanche of Swollen Tongues
Dead Pilot

Anthony Saggers' Stray Ghost star is clearly rising. After issuing the well-received Losthilde in 2008 on Highpointlowlife Records, the Oxfordshire-born producer finds himself re-emerging with not one but two new collections. The wonderfully-titled An Avalanche of Swollen Tongues perpetuates the seething dark ambient style captured on Losthilde , while the EP Each Paradise is a Lost Paradise will form a precursor to Losthilde II, scheduled to appear on the Australian label Hidden Shoal in January 2010. There'll be no shortage of Saggers' blistering drones on offer in the months to come.

The Dead Pilot release begins audaciusly with the title track, which opens the album on a whisper before shattering the quiet a minute later with a massive swarm of noise—“An Avalanche of Swollen Tongues” indeed. For twenty-three minutes, metallic ripples of convulsive noise swirl, and one feels as if one is trapped at the center of a cyclone, holding on to anything for dear life until the ferocious storm subsides. Saggers wisely lowers the intensity level in the following piece, “Grains and Waves,” by bringing down the volume level and reducing its contents to gently flowing masses of hazy washes and string tones. The track's ten-minute running time, however, allows room for an escalation to a more epic stratosphere to transpire halfway through. Elsewhere, Saggers unleashes the controlled, nightmarish howl of “The Liberation of Vision” for eight minutes, and pummels the listener into submission with the seething, mini-epics “High Rise” and “The End.” Such tracks ensure that no one will categorize Stray Ghost as ambient in the ‘wallpaper' sense of the word. Throughout the album, a decrepit and corroded character also asserts itself in a way that helps separate Stray Ghost from the competition.

December 2009