|Ghost In The Clocks
It’s been four years since Into The Shadows and No Room Here came out, that gave us the chance to meet for the first time the peculiar mixture of post-rock and modern classical music of Anoice. 2019 finally marks their return to the scene with Ghost In The Clocks, published via their own label Ricco.
The first track, “After The Rain”, seems to be the conceptual following of The Black Rain, their 2012 album; the similarities between both the artworks are clear, displaying (that, who may be) the main character of the story they tell, implying that there actually is some narrative continuity between the two works. The core theme of Ghost In The Clocks, though, as the title itself suggests, is time, hence its strong presence within the tracks, as for example “Clockwork Moment”, which is made of clock’s ticking.
Although, there might be some misunderstanding as we speak of narration: Anoice music is characterised by an overall absence of words, freeing its listener from the boundaries of forced interpretation of each instrument’s multicoloured expressiveness; the four musicians — together with three guests — work cohesively in order to convey emotions in their purest form, so that anyone receiving their music is tasked with associating them to a context, based on the few and yet sufficient data provided by the artworks and each song’s name. Ghost In The Clocks powerful storytelling is perfectly capable of filling the blanks left by the absence of any singing voice and it’s easy to get carried away while picturing in one’s mind the album’s tale. The very same Anoice put in this record’s tracklist a new arrangement of “Missing”, originally written for a TV series, and therefore proved how their pieces can be linked to the most various situations.
Clearly the core element of the ten tracks of the album concerns the emotions conveyed and the very star of the lineup, from this point of view, is Yuki Murata, who’s able to paint each and every shade of the soul with her piano: the solitude of “Room With Nobody” and the radiant calm of “The Light” are only some of the sensations living in the musician’s heart. And, although her solo performances are undoubtedly charming, it’s when the pianist works together with her companions that music gets the most intense: the sense of anxiety of the tense “After The Rain” suddenly gets more dramatic as the strings join in as much as the first half of “It”, more dark and introspective, is followed by a lighter and more luminous part with the help of the viola; “Missing”, overall, is the most complete example of the combined work of strings and piano, an interaction with the most heart-breaking results.
Although heavily influenced by classical music, Ghost In The Clocks is still a work whose post-rock side is prominently important, as the song “Time” testifies with its crescendo, perfectly in line with the standards of the genre and capable of creating the right tension together with drums’ pushing rhythm. Nonetheless, to witness the more rock side of Anoice one must almost get to the end of the ride, to “Rebirth”, in which the electric guitar’s energy weaves with classical instruments’ positivity for more than ten minutes; and yet the emotional apex for yours truly is “Heroes”, a piece so tremendously intense it made me shiver and cry every time I got to it — a magnificent jewel placed in the right place and at the right timing, since we’re able to look at it right after that pitch black abyss called “Room With Nobody”.
What’s still missing from this picture is the name of one of the key elements of Anoice, named Takahiro Kido. His presence in Ghost In The Clocks is as slight and subtle as monumentally fundamental: he’s been moving silently from piece to piece (except “Rebirth”) adding the most clever details, as the organ in “It” and “Heroes” or some really deep bass lines to reinforce the more energetic parts of “Time”; these elements could be surely missed as one listens to this record inattentively, but once you see them you cannot avoid thinking that they’re structurally relevant, as they make the general narration so incisively effective. Also, it’s important to remark the importance of his role as one of the two songwriters of the group, together with Yuki Murata, and therefore one must pay him respect, even though it might seem he didn’t contribute that much to the whole thing: his ability to compose songs as elaborate as “It” or as minimal as “Under The Blood Red Sky”, all of them filled with elements so deeply significant, is absolutely outstanding.
Without further ado, Ghost In The Clocks confirms the refinement and quality of Anoice‘s magic, as listening to it is a very engaging and enchanting experience you won’t forget so easily. I don’t usually hail as a miracle, but such an album containing gems like “Heroes” and “It” completely deserves to be called a masterpiece.