Xosar – Ghosthaus review

Xosar - Ghosthaus EP
Artist
Xosar
Title
Ghosthaus EP
Label
Rush Hour
Format
Red 12", Digital
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Having released her first record on L.I.E.S this month, we now see Xosar’s second EP, Ghosthaus, on Rush Hour Recordings. The record features two tracks, and includes two remixes from Mr Danny Wolfers under his Legowelt moniker. They’ve been playing gigs together in Europe and the U.S. recently, and their sounds complement each other well. The Ghosthaus EP remains true to its namesake, guiding you through an exploration of deathly sounds – fear lurking around every corner, the chance of escape unlikely.

We open with the title track, as droning synthesizers slowly take you across the River Styx. Waves gently lap the side of your crumbling rowboat, as the ferryman rows in time with the cavernous claps interjecting this mournful funeral process. Delicate key-work builds yet another layer as the beat slowly marches towards the underworld. The half-time structure and house tempo adds tons of space and Xosar fills every inch of it with dread. Muted and subtle synths slowly undulate beneath a suffocating beat, making the crossing of this river, and the entry into the after-life, both horrendously unnerving and strangely uplifting.

This track introduces the record perfectly, and sets the listener up for everything that is set to come. If “Ghosthaus” acts as an introduction, then Legowelt’s reworking works perfectly as the first chapter. The remix is a feature length version of the original, utilising a sound that is typically Wolfers– warm, interesting and unique. The core synth progression has been lifted almost untouched, but the track is transformed by a four-four beat pattern and some sharp, purring pads driving the rhythm.

The remix slots perfectly on top of the original by maintaining a continuation of the same musical themes. It takes you deeper into the underworld and leaves your heart racing alongside the layered drum patterns and intimidating keys.  The breakdown is also phenomenal, suddenly hanging its listener out to dry on a cold plane of science-fiction synthesisers, before firmly thrusting them back into a sombre death march.

The B-Side opens with Xosar’s “Rainy Day Juno Jam” and is the only track that breaks the circle of dread on the rest of the EP. On first listen it seems completely out of place, but on further examination you come to realise that it gives balance to the entire record. Far from being catapulted towards death, “Rainy Day Juno Jam” gently pulls you back into the light. Sparkling, lively and angelic synth-lines build on top of one another, while heavenly voices – trapped in a temporal void – call out through a stripped down rhythm.

A few singular cowbells are randomly dotted throughout, adding a beautiful touch which every so often adds a new layer to an already impressive piece of music. This track appears to be an attempt to give “Ghosthaus” an opposing argument; the synth structure and rhythmical swing all remaining reminiscent of the first track on the record, but executed in such a way as to flood the darkness with a multitude of light.  Legowelt closes out our journey, and as ever, takes the essence of “Rainy Day Juno Jam” and channels it through his own aesthetic. Relentless hi-hats, a forward marching, muted kick drum and the ghost of a snare hit are all that makes up the beat.

He turns the keys on their head, a mirror opposite of the original, drawing its listener back into ambivalent fear. Wolfers manages to retain some of the light, letting it linger in the air while simultaneously maintaining the record’s darkest elements.  The clue to Ghosthaus is in the title; it’s the decomposed and rotting body of house, taking you deep into a murky underworld and leaving the spectral demons of Chicago’s past, present and future lingering in your mind.

Frank Mitchell


Tracklisting:

1. Ghosthaus
2. Ghosthaus (Legowelt remix)
3. Rainy Day Juno Jam
4. Rainy Day Juno Jam (Legowelt remix)

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