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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Palac
Ghosts
self-released

Rating: 7/10 ?


December 15, 2008
Hailing from Berlin, Palac, the solo venture of composer Peter Prautzsch, straddles the great digital divide of modern music, with one foot firmly planted in the micro-bleeps of laptop arrangements and the other dipping a toe in the vague atmospherics of cinematic instrumentals. If you mashed up Salvo Beta with Eluvium, you'd get something at least in the same ballpark as Palac. (And yes, Prautzsch is aware of the Will Oldham-related project of a very similar name, I asked).

Ghosts starts off steady, the frigid synthetic cadence of "On Arianne and Francois" gently rocked by the soft bellowing of distortion and a few hints at something more sinister crying from the unseen depths. The track is rather primitive and unambitious, and if it weren't for the infectiousness of the choppy digital beat the whole assemblage might fall apart. Essentially an exercise in minimalism, most of Ghosts suffers from a similar uncertainty.

Later, on the six-minute long "Eleanor and Babara," muted tones give way to a Dopplerized groan of ethereal voices that, if not clearly indicative of the album's title, conjure up images of a church choir going down with a sinking ship. Undaunted, Prautzsch gives the humanistic elements - which include hints of harmonium-like breaths - only a bit of room before the glitchery takes over. On the following "Perish," however, the cold digital tones give way to a thoroughly lush and dream-like cloud that meanders a while before quietly relinquishing itself.

In the end Ghosts is a competent effort, somewhat hindered by the mechanics of its disparate parts. On the one hand the restraint Prautzsch shows in employing the organic sounds (in this context tape hiss would sound organic) is admirable and certainly lends tenseness to the album's atmosphere. On the other, however, the very nature of the micro sounds makes the laptop elements rather overbearing. This hitch may just be a Catch 22 for Prautzsch; he's staked his flag in the minimalist camp, so there are fewer distractions at his disposal to bleed the sharp contrast between software glitches and spooky groans. As much an art project as an album, Ghosts is something you should shelve during a dinner party but could try running through later, while doing dishes after a bottle or two of wine. Just make sure you've locked the doors.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth

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