A Statement of Dark, Triumphant Tunes
Following an eight-week tease fest in form of a podcast series, Night Sounds, meant to share and explain the creative process of putting together a musical body of work, Lo-ghost’s debut album, There’s Blood In My Body And It Sounds Like This:, finally dropped a couple of weeks ago.
Comprising of vocal powerhouse, Shannon Devy and the multitalented kickass producer, Evan Strauss, Lo-ghost made a grand entrance into the South African music scene with what I consider to be one of the most powerful debut music videos of 2016. The video for Ghost in a Blood Machine off their debut EP, Mother, aimed at addressing issues that affect the LGBTQ community such as internalised homophobia, self-hatred and shame. I became an avid fan from the moment I saw it.
Staying true to the alternative pop duo’s signature, the 15-track collection is a statement of dark, triumphant tunes. The songs deliver a deeply emotional material through rich synth arrangements, danceable electronic beats and massive vocal performances, all coloured with a distinct pop sensibility.
The opening track, ‘I Break My Own Heart’, is one of my favourites probably because I have been jamming to it since it dropped as a pre-release single a couple of weeks prior to the album release. Then again, every single song in the album is my favourite. But something about Devy’s crystal clear vocals with subtle underlying drums, the catchy chorus and the punchy electronic guitar right at the end makes ‘I Break My Own Heart‘ a standout.
The song that sent Lo-ghost straight into the depths of my heart, ‘Ghost in a Blood Machine’, and the message it carries on internalised homophobia and self-shame never gets old. This song, with its important and necessary queer narratives, definitely sets Lo-ghost as one of South Africa’s, if not the world’s most progressive artists.
Strauss’ smooth vocals, underlined with soothing melodies of the igbo and accompanied by chanting drums, come in full force on ‘The Blue‘ as he sings a song of longing for the impossible: If only I could bare your witness / If only I could be your mistress / If only I could watch your cemetery fade. This song is a little different from the rest of the collection; it lacks the electronic melodies that theme the most part of the album – a pleasant twist, I must say. ‘Lover‘ carries a similar tone but this time Devy takes the mic to sing about her, well, lover over drum pads. My favourite part of this song is the outro where Devy’s full and throaty voice results to multiple eargasms as she repeatedly sings, My lover / I love her.
The commanding acoustic guitar chords on ‘Night Flowers’ are the kind that induces an involuntary tapping of feet to the listener as they mask the gloomy nature of the lyrics. The sombre mood carries over to ‘Ocean‘, a song about loss and grief and ‘Lay Your Hands‘, which touches on issues of mental health and neediness.
Percussive melodies with electronic hints give ‘Creature‘ an upbeat feel even though the song is about one of the darkest illnesses to ever plague the human kind, depression: …and my heart, it broke for the hundredth time / And then I cried all night / And I died a thousand times… ‘Cavernous‘ on the other hand doesn’t even try to hide the melancholy of the track in both the music and the lyrics. A resonant sound of the bass accompanies the duo’s vocals that speak about being a little bit lost, a little bit cold and maybe a little bit jaded.
Listening to There’s Blood In My Body And It Sounds Like This:, its seriously hard to believe that the record is Lo-ghost’s debut full body of work and almost entirely self-produced. The material, in addition to being a necessary reminder that life’s misfortunes are unavertable, is so well produced and presented, leaving me with not a single doubt that one of SA’s music geniuses have just stepped in.