Spectral Music is Ghost Rhythms’ second release on Cuneiform Records after 2019’s Live at Yoshiwara, a live album consisting almost entirely of new material. This is their sixth full-length studio effort, and the third since 2015’s acclaimed Madeleine. After delegating much of the writing on Yoshiwara to their bandmates, the band’s leaders, drummer Xavier Gélard and pianist Camille Petit were back firmly at the helm for their precedent effort, Imaginary Mountains; this is still the case on this one, although there are again pieces contributed by other members.
LIVE AT YOSHIWARA
Having so far self-released three studio efforts, French ensemble Ghost Rhythms present their first live album, and debut Cuneiform release, Live at Yoshiwara, recorded in front of a small audience just before Christmas 2018 at Les Frigos in Paris – in the very room that serves as the setting for their weekly rehearsals.
Ghost Rhythms is led by composers, drummer Xavier Gélard and pianist Camille Petit.
Together, they have composed the entirety of the band’s material except
for this one-off project originally designed to coincide with the
band’s tenth anniversary. For Live at Yoshiwara, they invited the other
members to contribute pieces of their own for the first – and possibly
only - time.
These two have known each other since the mid 90s and worked in a variety of rock and progressive rock-type ensembles. With neither of them having any background in jazz, but both having interest in forming a jazz ensemble, they recruited jazz and classical players, making it clear that they would provide all the composed music, their view being that an interesting balance between immediacy and a more cerebral approach would be achieved between their own background as self-taught, prog-rock-influenced composers/musicians and by the academically-trained classical/jazz musicians who made up the rest of the ensemble.
By 2008, Ghost Rhythms were up and running and regularly gigging in various small Paris venues, but had yet to come to the attention of established media and institutions. This began to change when the band won prizes in several talent contests: at the Boule Bleue festival in the Somme in September 2008 (they were invited back for a headlining slot at the 2009 edition), the Jazz à La Défense festival in Paris in June 2012, where Ghost Rhythms came 3rd and 2nd in the Best Ensemble and Best Composer categories, and the Jazz en Baie festival near the Mont-Saint-Michel in September 2013. The La Défense prizes in particular proved instrumental in getting booked in Paris’ leading jazz clubs, such as the Sunset, where they won yet another talent contest.
With their first release on an international label and with a decade of work behind them, Ghost Rhythms, who are one of the world’s lesser-known, great, boundary-blurring ensembles, take a step into the spotlight...
“Hello everyone! Xavier from
Ghost Rhythms writing. I hope you're fine! As you may know, we have a
new album out; I thought it would be interesting to tell a bit of the
story behind it. So here it is!
I remember being amazed by
Pink Floyd's live at Pompei, since they played live for no audience;
and being intrigued by Frank Zappa's concept of ‘Xenochrony’, which
consists of mixing several pieces from different times into one song.
You can say that this album pays homage to those two attempts at
playing with the "live album" concept.