Time Travel







 - A Review by Bill Binkelman
Issue #8

Richard Bone

      Richard Bone keeps re-inventing himself musically. After the trippy fun-filled Electropica, I never expected the dark and spooky release I’m listening to right now. Talk about versatile -- yikes! What next? The first ambient blues CD?

    Spectral ships are ghostly images of ships (or images of ghost ships) that appeared on the horizon at dawn or dusk. If that description doesn’t chill your blood a little, listening to this great collection of drifting ambient soundscapes, which walks a line between eerie beauty and downright terror, will help the chill factor along nicely.

   The CD opens with “The Serpentine Arcade,” an almost elegiac haunting synth number, anchored by soft chiming bell-like tones in the background while dark deep bass tones rumble ominously. A vocal sample at the end talks about heaven and hell and at that point you better buckle up. It’s a deliciously dark ride ahead.

    “Nocturna” starts with what sounds like a sonar-blip repeating out to the horizon. Very ominous deep bassy synths float in and the mood turns foreboding. Beware listening to this with the lights out, kids! “Fata Morgana” is even darker to my way of thinking, as deep rolling synths are mirrored by the sounds of waves. It’s fascinating what Richard brought to this party. Lots of dark ambient music is not necessarily “beautiful” or “pretty.” The Spectral Ships, however, is brimming with a dark beauty as it weaves its mysterious and haunting spell over you. Richard’s keen sense of melody and composition add a new dimension to music that can leave me feeling cold and sterile. While this recording is quite unnerving at times (check out the opening to “Palantine” with its ghost moaning effects and synthesized wind and some of the deepest rumbling bass I’ve heard in a while), it has a fascinating musical appeal. Dare I say it -- this is an accessible dark ambient recording!

    One of my real guilty pleasures in film is John Carpenter’s earlier work, The Fog. While his (and Alan Howarth’s) score for that film was pretty damn creepy, trust me -- this is the real soundtrack for a tale of ghost ships! If you want to scare the pants, skirts, or whatever, off your Halloween party-goers, get The Spectral Ships. But, make sure you keep a keen eye on the horizon. If you see a shadow in the night, take care.

- Bill Binkelman -