Stray Ghost: Each Paradise is a Lost Paradise
Hidden Shoal

While the material Oxfordshire-born Anthony Saggers has thus far released has been modest in amount, there is still enough that a Stray Ghost ‘sound' has come into focus. The two full-lengths he's issued, 2008's Losthilde on Highpointlowlife Records and 2009's An Avalanche of Swollen Tongues on Dead Pilot, opt for an uncompromising dark ambient style that can make the listener feel as if he/she has been spirited away on a one-way tour through Hell—memorable recordings, for sure, but not what you'd call calm-inducing. All of which makes Each Paradise is a Lost Paradise, Saggers' first Stray Ghost release (and digital-only release) for Hidden Shoal, such a pleasant surprise: in diametric contrast to the nightmarish ambiance of the album releases, the EP's three settings are becalmed and beatific. In contrast to a downward trajectory, the direction is now upwards, with some heavenly paradise the implied destination.

The ten-minute opener “La Belle Semaine” transports us into a proggy landscape of flute-like Mellotron murmurs and layers of shimmering synths. With the mood so serene, the listener becomes entranced by the material rather than on edge, anxiously anticipating the harrowing shift in mood to come. Understated field recording accents expand the sonic template in the central piece, “Au Revoir à la Belle Semaine,” where Mellotron traces, blurry bell tones, and static commingle in a manner more reminiscent of the established Stray Ghost sound. “Réminiscences et Rêves de Beauté” returns us to the paradisiacal mood of the opener with an ethereal ambient drone setting that stretches its wings for ten dreamcasting minutes. If Each Paradise is a Lost Paradise is indicative of what to expect from the upcoming Losthilde II, the full-length has the potential to be one of the year's standout ambient recordings.

March 2010