A large ensemble of varying size, Ghost Rhythms is led by composers, drummer Xavier Gélard and pianist Camille Petit.

"The music here walks a wide loop around Soft Machine and Magma, Univers Zero and Henry Cow, Miles Davis and Miriodor, Van Der Graaf Generator and Art Zoyd. It's impeccably assembled and played, while freely indulging the more insane aspects of progressive rock, avant-garde chamber music, and electric jazz....Despite the musical sophistication and adventure on Live at Yoshiwara, this music is extremely accessible to a wide swathe of listeners. Its release signals the magnificent arrival of Ghost Rhythms on American shores. Get it now."
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

A “massively fun and ornately detailed”, “seriously compelling” album, with “influences of folk music, modern jazz and a slight nod to pop music and ambient minimalism”, with “stunning moments of beauty”
– Dave Sumner, Bird Is The Worm

“Mysterious and beguiling”, “gloriously expansive and darkly cinematic”, “a captivating and highly musical tribute to a cinematic classic”, “a highly enjoyable and melodic album of intricate chamber jazz arrangements for [a] small [to] medium-sized ensemble” 
–  Roger Trenwith, The Progressive Aspect

“The musical equivalent of a page-turner… Styles mingle without ever it sounding artificial… This double concept album cannot be reduced to any existing style – it is in equal parts jazz, chamber music, rock, improv and hypnotic loops… A coherent, finely-crafted and supremely evocative work.”
– Jean-Philippe Haas / Chromatique


RUNE 486

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.

Gélard had toyed with the idea of using the title Spectral Music for a while, but it only began to make sense conceptually during the writing process. “For some reasons that title appealed to me. Obviously, ‘spectral music’ means something very specific in the realm of contemporary music – music based on the spectral analysis of sounds which are then recreated using an orchestra. But of course the word itself can refer to differing things – ghosts, frequencies, colors…” As an illustration of that process, the two-part title track began life with Petit revisiting and re-assembling elements – in a “spectral” manner - of a previous Ghost Rhythms piece, “23rd Hour Screen Music” (the closing track on 2008’s Sept Cercles).

However, the real theme of the album, remoteness and telepathy, came late in the process. It might have been self-apparent the moment the band jokingly sent invitations for a “A Distance : first ever telepathic concert” on April, 3, 2021, in a time where no concerts were allowed, but it only dawned on them while working on ideas for a clip for the track “Thoughtography”. The title was a suggestion by Gélard, and refers to the story of Ted Serios and Jule Eisenbud which took place in the 1960s. A well-known Denver-based psychoanalyst, Eisenbud had become convinced by Serios’ wondrous (and untruthful) claim that he had the ability to put images on Polaroid film with his mind. “Camille, his sister Alice [who did the clip for “Kamaloka”, from Live at Yoshiwara] and I were working on the video for Thoughtography, trying to come up with interesting ideas. We decided the simplest way to do it, as Covid prevented reunions and complicated things, was to collect films that each musician would do separately, as we were strained by distance. And I began to think that was the real theme of the album : remoteness and its “solution”, telepathy. I wondered what it would be like if we, as musicians, could somehow communicate telepathically, and project music to one another with our minds, as Serios did with his ‘thoughtographs’. That’s when the idea of the album being a commentary on remote communication began to take shape.”

The parallel with the current Covid crisis was of course not lost on Gélard and Petit. “This is the second album we have made remotely due to the current situation [the first being Imaginary Mountains]. We’ve always used overdubbing in our recordings, but never to quite that extent. This time everyone recorded their parts at home, with the exception of the drums, piano and Wurlitzer tracks which were laid down in a proper studio. The process suggested another parallel – the notion that modern technology (the Internet of course but you could argue it really began with the telephone), creates an illusion that distance is abolished. For me it’s not so much communication as a form of fake telepathy. If anything, technology actually reinforces the sense of remoteness. At least that’s the way I felt during the process of making albums that way.”

The first project Ghost Rhythms recorded in this manner was 2020’s Imaginary Mountains. It was  originally intended as an EP, but at 50 minutes far exceeded the format. “Our focus is still on the main, ‘real’ albums - the 60-year-old old concept of the 33 1/3 LP, with an overarching narrative structure and tracks that quote from each other, reprised themes, etc. This being said, the EP-type projects are no less important to us, as they give us a chance to escape from our compositional ‘canons’ and experiment with different kinds of ideas.”

The closing track, “Tumulte Opaque”, is about spirits in a more conventional sense, i.e. ghosts. “It was inspired by a dream I once had about an abandoned building where, supposedly, the members of [the band] Gong would have resided once upon a time. In the hall I met a guide who informed me that on the second floor lived their ‘ghost’, an old lady who could predict the weather. I walked up the staircase and as I opened the door I was suddenly hit with a gust of wind of formidable force which kept me from entering. There was something numinous, in the Jungian sense, and almost divine about that dream which left a strong mark on me. This is why, for the first time in Ghost Rhythms history, I wanted to have narration on this track.” (Said narration is credited to one ‘Wyatt Hopper’, but whether this is an actual person - conveniently recently deceased - or just a figment of Gélard's imagination following repeated listens of Soft Machine’s Volume Two, will be left for the listener to decide.)

After welcoming contributions by fellow band members on Live at Yoshiwara, Gélard and Petit were keen to return to their usual modus operandi of composing all the music in tandem, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. “We’d written all of Imaginary Mountains together, the way we used to do, which successfully revived our writing partnership, with a degree of complicity and shared ambition that had been missing since Madeleine. So we decided to retain the same approach for Spectral Music. But what happened was that we also had three pieces written by other members, two of which [one each by flautist Julien Bigorgne and percussionist Morgan Lowenstein] had been conceived for, but not used on Yoshiwara, and the third, [bassist Grégory Kosovski]’s “L’Autre Versant”, which as its title indicates was more related to Imaginary Mountains. There was a fear that the resulting album might be something of a hodgepodge, but I don’t feel this is the case, as unlike Yoshiwara we had plenty of time during post-production to add something of a Gélard/Petit touch to these pieces through overdubs and additional arrangements.”

Ghost Rhythms played their first concert with an audience in 18 months in late September (they had contributed a pre-recorded performance to the 2020 Virtual ProgDay online festival), and more are planned from November onwards. “It felt like learning to walk again, but it was great to interact with an audience!”

Spectral Music press release

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RUNE 466
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!

Live at Yoshiwara is exactly what the title says : a live album, in a place called Yoshiwara.

Except there are no venues called Yoshiwara. There is one infamous Yoshiwara district in Japan, which in turn lent its name to the depraved, ambiguous red-light district and club in Metropolis, the Fritz Lang's 1927 silent sci-fi movie.

For a long time, Camille Petit and myself were very interested in the slight frontier between existent and non-existent features in human life; dreams, for one; memories; and ghosts. That was that main interest that brought to life our double album Madeleine, which creates another soundtrack for Hitchcock's Vertigo, and gives space for the ghost that the movie gives life to, Madeleine. Madeleine really influences the characters in the movie, though she is not a real ghost, but merely an invention from a con-man.

This record, Live at Yoshiwara, is no exception. We chose to make it live, but place it in a non-existing venue; we created a space that exists only in name within a real space, and recorded the music there, in front of a small audience. Although the music really is live in front of that audience, the music we made, the way we interpreted it, and the way we edited it, was influenced by the strong atmosphere surrounding Metropolis' Yoshiwara, mixing imaginary locations and historic and future timelines at once.

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.

Regards from Paris.”– Xavier Gélard

Live at Yoshiwara press release

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For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.

Spectral Music
Live at Yoshiwara

Spectral Music press release
Live at Yoshiwara press release

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