Ghost Echo – Isolated Dreams

Posted 110321

Review: Erik Neuteboom

Website info. “Ghost Echo is the brainchild of Dutch musicians Remy de Wal (rhythm – and lead guitar, synthesizers, programming and background vocals) and Karel Witte (lead vocals, piano, guitars, synthesizers and programming). Combining their love for atmospheric synth/guitar sounds with triphop-like beats and ethereal vocal layering, the music can best be described as Cinematic Electro-Prog. Influences include Steven Wilson, A Perfect Circle, Katatonia, Massive Attack and the soundtracks to both Blade Runner movies. Ghost Echo was conceived as a two-man project as a result of the lockdown. Band members Remy and Karel started sending each other demos back and forth, building upon each other’s ideas. 95% of all music is made without actually being in the same room together. Isolated Dreams is Ghost Echo’s debut album and was written and recorded between March 2020 and February 2021 in the home studios of Remy and Karel. The entire production and mixing was done by the band themselves. The album will be released independently on March 25th, preceded by the album’s lead single Late Night on March 11th – accompanied by a stunning animated video by Berlin-based award-winning visual artist Tiago Araújo.”

The album kicks off with Black Era, showcasing Ghost Echo its interesting and daring writing skills. The first part contains a tight beat, soaring keyboards, soft synthesizer flights, topped with pleasant, a bit romantic sounding vocals. The music reminds me of mid-Eighties Simple Minds. Then heavy and raw guitar riffs join, now the atmosphere turns into more dark featuring a blistering guitar solo, a strong contrast with the first part, the band succeeds to keep my full attention!

Then three compositions that alternate between dreamy, atmospheric and ambient.Spacey synthesizer sounds, a hypnotizing tight beat, mellow melancholical vocals, and in the end a more lush sound with fragile guitar in Dust. Emotional vocals, a catchy beat, soaring keyboards and halfway powerful guitar runs in Late Night. And an ambient electronic climate with soft melancholical vocals in Monologue.

Next the song Null Void, also staring pretty mellow with a spacey atmosphere and dark vocals. But gradually the music shifts to more lush with wah-wah guitar, I love that pedal sound. Halfway a tight beat, again spacey sounds, in the final part heavy and howling guitar runs, blended with a majestic choir sound, very compelling, this bands delivers strong own musical ideas.

Back to dreamy climates in the following two tracks. Tender piano and vocals, halfway a biting guitar runs, topped with soaring keyboards in Ocean II. And warm piano work, melancholical vocals and sensitive electric guitar play, Coldplay comes to my mind, very pleasant and melodic music.

Finally Pitfalls, the longest (close to 7 minutes) and most dynamic track on this debut album. It starts with a slow rhythm, the band generates tension with a compelling atmosphere with strong work on keyboards and guitar, a slow hypnotizing beat and dark synthesizer sound, embellished with  emotional vocals. The second part turns into an intense musical experience with a moving guitar solo (with howling and biting runs) and emotional vocals, again I am impressed about Ghost Echo its interesting and daring writing skills.

A strong debut album from this promising Dutch duo, named Cinematic Electro-Prog, I agree with that description.