Out of This World is the quality third full-length from Hungary’s Ghost Toast, managing at times to be both fun and mellow, both atmospheric and catchy. This seemingly contradictory collection of attributes leads to some brilliant moments in a solid album that is certainly a breath of fresh air.
One of the band’s claims to the “prog” moniker is their eclectic base of inspiration. The main sources seem to be post rock, hard rock, electronic music, and of course the progressive rock tradition proper. Different songs highlight certain of these influences, sometimes with dramatically different surfaces – the transition from the high energy, rhythmically twisting, metal-like Gordius to the gradually unfolding, rhythmically straight-ahead electronic sounds of Alia is surprising to the point of jarring on a first listen.
However, there is a convincing coherence that keeps the album from falling apart under the strain of the different sounds involved. Besides the band’s claim that there is a loose concept involved in the choice of samples (more on these later), there are some unusual timbral choices that weave through all of the songs – cello melodies, deep atmospheric synth pads, and hard to identify, distant-sounding bells and chimes all contribute to a well-defined sound world with plenty of aural interest. In other words, the atmosphere is pervasive, which is always a plus.
The band also makes the obligatory use of “odd” (how long can we keep calling them odd, as they become so common across progressive genres?) time signatures and a few subtler rhythmic tricks. While much of this falls into the relatively common repeated groupings of 5 or 7 or irregularly grouped steady eighth note melodies over open string pedal points (think Dream Theater’s In The Presence of Enemies, Pt 1), there are some more unusual moments: the angular triplet interruptions in Gordius, the little turnaround 4 minutes into Minotaur, and the riff starting at 1:31 in Last Man all stand out for their rhythmic unexpectedness.
And it’s good that the sounds are interesting, because it’s an instrumental album – but not completely. There are several instances of sampled spoken word passages and some singing, such as on Kaia, even if it is mostly heavily processed and often blends seamlessly with guitars and other electronics. In some places, this works well – the solo vocal melody with heavy delay in the aforementioned track is captivating. However, I find some of the spoken word samples awkward, in Last Man especially, where the music is mostly intriguing but seems to tread water to make room for the lengthy spoken passages. A small qualm, though, and certainly the thoroughness of their use can be seen as an ambitious choice.
All in all, this album will take some time to come to terms with. I was drawn in by the high energy, fast-paced opening songs only to be initially confused by the slower electronic songs, the samples of dialogue from films, and the extended grooves and middle-eastern feel of the latter half of the album (pastiche? homage? fusion? I’m still not sure what to make of it). However, an album that forces me to think a little bit is never a loser in my book, and this one certainly gives plenty to listen to and think about, from the detailed layers and grooves to the larger compositional and generic choices. For fans of Tool, East of the Wall, Bonobo, and/or Cloudkicker.
01. Ka Mai (5:33)
02. Gordius (6:42)
03. Alia (7:21)
04. The Dragon’s Tail (7:52)
05. Minotaur (5:23)
06. Kaia (8:13)
07. Last Man (7:38)
08. Ishvara (6:40)
09. Pawn of Fate (3:12)
Total Time – 58:34
László Papp – Drums
János Stefán – Bass, Sound FX, Samples
János Pusker – Cello, Keyboards
Bence Rózsavölgyi – Guitar
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Hungary
Date of Release: 7th June 2017