What would ghosts listen to? It’s a question that not many people will have asked and even fewer will have answered. It is, however, a question that I pondered after listening to “A Light Is Running Along The Ropes” by New York sound artists Spirit Radio.
Spirit Radio – aka Stephen Spera and Tamalyn Miller – shouldn’t really be considered as musicians in the conventional sense as ambient soundscapes are their modus operandi. Certainly, for ten of the eleven songs here, it is ambient soundscapes that you get with loops, ethereal vocal interludes, disconnected narrations and processed samples of reality getting launched and sent onwards to infinity through a universe filled with questions and uncertainty. This is, of course, just fine for Spirit Radio are not conventional so it would be unreasonable to expect conventional songs from them.
However, let’s get back to the original question and what do ghosts have on their ectoplasmic MP3 players? The answer to that is most likely “Mercury”. The eleventh song is the only fully formed, and therefore almost conventional song on the album and, for its thirteen minute plus length, it develops and achieves completeness even if that very completeness, gloriously, seems less of our reality than of the spirit world. “Mercury” often drifts but never loses sight of its destination and, because of that, seems more akin to the works of modern classical composers like Ligeti or Gárdonyi than either the avant-garde or the ambient genres.
Fans of ambient soundscapes will thus be satisfied by ten of the songs on this album but connoisseurs who would revel in the merging of soundscape and song will be best rewarded by those thirteen glorious minutes that are collectively called “Mercury”. The ghosts are in agreement.
The album is available from Bandcamp and the usual digital sources.