Thought Forms – Ghost Mountain
When I listen to new music, or to a new album by a band or
musician I already know and love, I listen to it on my headphones. I like to be
completely focused on the music and the lyrics, and let it win me over without
any distractions. When I first put Thought Forms Ghost Mountain on I was in a rush to get to work and put it on
while I was on my way out the door, distracted by other thoughts on my mind.
Those distractions only lasted seconds. I don’t remember my journey to work, I
must have done it on auto-pilot. I don’t remember if I was sitting or standing
in the subway car, if I grabbed a cup of tea on my way or how many cigarettes I
lit up. All I remember is the way the music grabbed me by my insides and
twisted them around, threw a few punches in there and then wrapped me in a
soft, warm blanket. Apart from all of the emotions that the music sent me
spinning through, all I remember thinking was “Oh. My. God.”. I may be prone to
hyperbole in some situations, but when I say that this album is amazing I mean
it with no exaggeration. It is amazing.
Nothing is as deep as
the rivers we keep – Sans Soleil
I’ve followed Thought Forms for years, ever since seeing
them play at Cake Shop in NYC in 2006, spending time with them on different
occasions in NYC and England, seeing them grow through their first album, solo
projects, different live sets and ultimately opening for Portishead on their North
American Tour in late 2011. Since then they have recorded their second album, Ghost Mountain, while still continuing
to tour and play live shows on a regular basis (although I wish they were able
to make it to the States more often than they do).
kicks off with Landing, a dark epic
of doom which drags you into a bleak box where you feel like your screams go unheard
while the music builds incessantly and then dies down, giving you a chance to
breathe: beauty within darkness. The album follows on with Ghost Mountain – You and Me, a respite in the world of darkness
created by Landing, beautiful soft
riffs, building up in harmony, slowly adding melody and background vocals.
These sounds come from within, two people together somewhere in the wilderness,
holding hands, no words, together and not alone anymore. Charlie’s angelic
voice is swirling around you, you feel lost inside your own mind that seems to
be melded with the mind of the person next to you, two people in their own
Frozen in time , Oceans
of blood, Electric hum, Over again, hiding beneath acres of history, And I wait
for you to come, To come around – Ghost Mountain – You and Me
Sans Soleil is the
first single on the album (see the video below), and is the first song on the
album that departs from the mainly instrumental sound Thought Forms had before.
Charlie and Deej’s voices respond to each other, and as always their guitars
communicate perfectly together, creating harmonies that sound beautifully
natural and organic. The video matches the song perfectly:
Burn me Clean is my
own personal favourite on Ghost Mountain.
It is a call, a request, standing on a mountain in the wilderness, calling out
to the world with the use of a flute, guitars, drums and a voice. This song is
absolutely amazingly beautiful – it could be used as part of a movie
soundtrack, standing alone, surrounded only by clouds and stars; in a clearing
in a dark forest; standing around a fire, invoking a higher power. The song
evokes elements of witchcraft and paganism with an underlying intensity of
gloom, heavy guitar sounds waiting to suddenly burst into destruction before
disappearing into the background again, forever present, always ready to
reappear and crush the sound, but surrounded by tenderly ethereal sounds and
vocals. Always an element of menace in beauty, and when the guitar breaks out
it is as if your heart does too. Destruction to create renewal, depressing but
ultimately uplifting. A paradox of a
song that won’t leave you after the first listen. Close your eyes and let the
music take you where it is supposed to take you. You may not come back exactly
Only Hollow takes
you away from the lonely mountain or forest and brings you back to this world.
Charlie’s vocals sound less ethereal and angelic here and more angry and
aggressive, the perfect segway between the darkness of Burn Me Clean and the delicate beauty of the next song, Afon. Afon is like a beautiful butterfly, flying high above you, a song
that you cannot contain but that will not let you go. I would love to hear this
one live to see what Thought Forms do with it.
Fine white lines of
light join us eye to eye, From coast, through air, in waves, Blood lines fade,
bleach light you made – Afon
I’ve heard Song for
Junko live many times and am so glad it made it on to Ghost Mountain in its latest format. The piece is a back and forth,
layered double vocals and guitar riffs talking to each other with Guy’s
fantastic drumming consistently leading the way from beginning to end. The
piece is a momentum of build-up and release, harmony and utter distortion.
To close the album out, O
provides the eeriest sounds yet. There is no way to categorize this song as it
has a pure Thought Forms sound that calls to the gothic, dark side in me that I
still carry around with love. Charlie’s voice sounds utterly angelic at times
while Deej’s sounds completely demonic in the background. Impending doom with a
sudden change about five minutes into the song as it breaks into anger and
palpable pain, to go back to the initial sound. A flash of anger within a time
of search and questioning. Brilliant.
Waiting for good fate
to knock, He don’t see those good things for his mind is too small, A tight
narrow space, and the space is not black, No it’s not even black and it’s all
your own doing – O
It’s not even the end
of January yet and I know that Ghost
Mountain is going to be in the Top Ten of my favourite releases this year.
Own it and listen to it loud – let it take you deep down inside and far away at
the same time.
Charlie and Deej took the time to answer some questions that
I had for them in regards to the making of Ghost Mountain and other related
interests. For further information on the band see the links below the
Jade: Although Ghost Mountain definitely contains
the signature Thought Forms sound it has definitely taken a step away from the
sound of your first album, mainly with the addition of more lyrics and vocals.
Is there a reason for this, or was it mainly an organic process?
TF: It just happened naturally… when we first started out in
2004 we were totally instrumental but as time went on and we became more
confident we started adding some more vocal stuff into our improv bits when we
were playing live… that spilled over into the writing process.
Jade: How do your songs mainly come together? Is
each of you in charge of certain parts that come together as one track, or do
you each write your own songs? Describe a typical Thought Forms song writing
TF: Most of the time we just get together and things evolve
from improvisations and if we’re lucky and something feels good, we’ll be able
to sort of remember what we were doing or the recorder will have been switched
on! Actually, just the other day I was going through some old recordings from
jams back in 2010 and there were the very first recordings of what became
“Ghost Mountain You And Me” and “Song For Junko” and it was cool to see how
much they’d changed in the past three years!
Other times one of us will bring in a more set, structured
idea for a song and we’ll work on it together, like with the tracks “Sans
Soleil” and “Only Hollow”. Some of the tracks developed through playing live
over three years but we wrote and recorded those within about three weeks! It
was a new way of working for us.
Jade: In the past
year you have been on tour with both Portishead and Beak>. Have either band
influenced your music or live act at all?
TF: Deej :
I think there have been influences, it’s hard not to when
you play with great musicians! Geoff Barrow giving us advice, Ade Utley showing
us new guitar tricks in his guitar orchestra, Jim Barr being a great producer
on our record, Matt Williams singing and joking with us... It all gets stored
Jade: Do you have a
specific moment during the tours that really sticks out and/or is memorable to
you? (Different answers per band member are fine!)
TF: Deej : Yeah - when Guy thought Whales lay eggs. Very
Apart from having the pleasure of seeing Portishead...
I think playing in amazing venues that fill up fast before
you go on.
Charlie : So many amazing / funny / surreal moments. I
suppose playing wise, when we played with Portishead in the big outdoor venues
– that was amazing and very, very scary, but beautiful. And like Deej said,
getting to see Portishead every night!
Jade: How did the
making/recording of Ghost Mountain differ from that of the previous album?
TF: Firstly, we had a lot more time to do it. The first
album was recorded in just a few days and we went into the studio trying to
replicate what we do live – we all played together in the same room and there
were very few overdubs.
With Ghost Mountain, we had much more studio time from the
outset but also, we’d decided / realized that trying to “capture” what we are
live on a record was not something that would ever really work… Making a record
is a different thing entirely and we embraced that this time round and really
made use of the studio.
Also, this was our first time working with a producer. Jim
really helped us to grow as a band and develop our ideas. It was great to have
someone there as an objective outside influence and better yet, one who makes
music that we really love and who, through seeing us play many, many times,
really knew us and understood what we were about and what we wanted to achieve.
Jade: Who are your main
influences (does not need to be limited to music)?
TF: Deej : I guess the music scene in the 90's played a
major part in my guitar playing... Listening to Pixies, Nirvana, and Sonic
Youth but those came from friends and people I met that introduced it to me.
I'm like a sponge and I find it important to be open in learning new things.
Jade: What are your
plans for 2013? Will you be touring after the release of Ghost Mountain?
TF: We’re going on tour in Europe right when the album comes
out, supporting Esben and the Witch -
we’re really looking forward to that.
We plan to tour a lot this year though most of it is
unconfirmed at this point.
We’ll also be starting work on writing new music as well as
doing lots of visual stuff.
Jade: What is each of
your favourite song on the album and why?
TF: Deej : I like them all because they're a lot different
from each other but still flow together.
I do have a soft spot for "Burn Me Clean" because
the way it was made... We played an improv gig at the Croft in Bristol and the
song just came out of us naturally, it was like we invoked something and
luckily we recorded it. After the show we listened to it and then slowly molded
into a structure. I love how the song grows from eastern sounds to dark heavy
drones and then to an epic explosion of beautiful noise.
Charlie : It’s hard to choose, they’re all quite different and I’m
“Afon” was a song that we played live a few times and had
tried to record demos of but we were close to discarding it as we couldn’t get
it right. Jim got such a great drum sound and through his suggestions it ended
up sounding exactly how we’d wanted it to without knowing how to achieve it. So
for that reason, I’m especially pleased with that one!
Jade: You also have solo projects that you each
work on outside of Thought Forms. Please provide more information on them and
links if possible!
TF: Charlie : I make music on my own under the name Silver Stairs Of
Ketchikan - I started doing it in 2006
and have done a few gigs since 2007, but very few. To date, the recordings have been mostly
improvised, one-take kinda things but I have some more structured stuff that
I’ve been sitting on for far too long that I hope to get recorded this year.
Deej : Yes,
I have a solo project that’s named after me... Deej Dhariwal
use my solo work to experiment and try different things. It’s essentially
bedroom jams full of drones, loops and melody.
Thought Forms Website
Thought Forms Facebook Page
Thought Forms in New York 2011 Photo Set