Saturday, May 22, 2010


The first time i listened to this i had someone over and we weren't really focused on it. I've decided to revisit it, being as it's been one of the recordings i'd been most anxious to hear since i learned about it. Team Ghost is the nom de plume of Nicholas Fromageau, the other guy from M83 who left the group after the sophomore album. He's been very quiet since that departure, dwelling in French obscurity while Anthony Martinez went on to build M83 into the gorgeous tower of washed out downer bliss by way of the 1980's they are now. Martinez is such a skilled composer and meticulous sculptor of sound that it becomes easy to forget Fromageau was ever in the band, and it becomes even easier to wonder what the hell he even did when he was there. The answer is simple: pretty much the same stuff. These two guys are two sides of the same coin, the only difference being Fromageau has a slightly more rock oriented approach to the sound than Martinez's focus on lush, ambient tearjerking haze.
"You Never Did Anything Wrong To Me" (and yeah-even the title reads like M83) opens up with a lake of tone called "Lonely, Lonely, Lonely" and pretty much sets the stage for what's going to be paraded out. An obvious but gorgeous bassline builds up beneath a buzzing discordance of melodic keyboard skree, creating a serious sense of beautiful unease, an excellent approximation of the sound of anxiety. It's not entirely comfortable but there are scattered moments of heaven throughout, a feverish tour through ennui and uncertainty. The next track blows it all out the door in a simple crush of guitar rock bliss, a love letter to MBV and Slowdive and one of the purest expressions of the classic shoegaze sound i've heard in years. The only drawback here (and throughout the record) is Fromageau's vocals-he's got an extreme nasal whine and his English is heavily accented. It makes me wonder why the fuck he didn't cloak his voice in echoes and effects or at the very least sing in French, which i personally think would have gone a long way in further beautifying (or romanticizing, you decide) the overall Team Ghost aesthetic. The song itself is great, and Fromageau obviously knows how to layer straining, yearning guitars-the decision to leave the vocals so dry just perplexes me. The third track for me is the most successful, a crushing blast of ambient throb based around another obvious and depressing bassline, but here Fromageau layers crackle upon crackle and weaves in a sad sounding girl's voice, speaking some sort of lament in French and the overall feel is one of intense loneliness and regret, like you're talking to some defeated person on the street in the dead of an autumn night and you're both becoming more and more aware of everything you've fucked up in your lives.
The remaining tracks veer between these two styles. Fromageau seems equally comfortable working as an ambient artist and guitarist. Some of the tracks rock harder than M83 ever did and veer towards an almost hardcore mentality as far as intensity goes, while others are content to plod on into infinity with a more minimalist approach than Martinez would ever greenlight. The similarities are obvious when you listen to this, and you sort of wonder why these two parted ways. I can only imagine the aching sort of beauties they could have created had they continued making music together. As is, Fromageau is probably doomed to be Belinda Butcher to Martinez's Kevin Shields. Maybe, though, that ability to live out of the spotlight, to take time and not have any sorts of expectations, will allow Fromageau to make the immersive and devastating record he appears capable of making. I eagerly await whatever comes next from Team Ghost-i just hope it gets louder and louder.

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