Spirit Mantra - Where Ghosts Play [Reverb Worship - 2016]Spirit Mantra is a side project of Timmy Stamper, also known as Timas 23. Where Ghosts Play uses samples and synths to create not only a grim, horror filled atmosphere, but also breaks the mold by taking it light and airy. With seven tracks over forty-seven minutes, Where Ghosts Play is an exciting journey through nicely layered soundscapes.
Eerily approaching like the Exorcist's train in the subway, "Darren the Priest" starts the album off like the grim soundtrack to a haunted house. Samples of horror movies and screaming children help build the mood, while low, groaning synthesizers and subway trains add extra gravity. Although the delivery shifts, "Where Ghosts Play" continues with the horror filled mood set forth by the opener. A bit more restrained, "Ghosts" uses more of a subtle creep to make its point. Wind blown synths swaddle low, plodding piano notes like the footsteps of a mysterious stranger approaching during a storm. Low and foreboding, "Alpha Omega" slowly drifts and oscillates forward. The brooding beast forming in the shadows, "Alpha's" spot on the album helps to reinforce the theme set forth by the opening tracks and to shift the tone to the second half of the album. Part grim torture, part light redemption, the synths that make up "Tortures of the Damned" deliver a nice ambivalence that mixes up the tone of Where Ghosts Play, before ending almost as quickly as it started. "Darren Dreams" opens up the dance floor to delayed and reverbed guitars, and really changes to scope of the album. What was once grim now has a glimmer of hope, albeit slim and distant. Woodsy and lightly tribal, "The Gate" feels like a light ritual in the forest by a fire. Though a tad hokey at points, there's enough solid material here to keep it grounded and inline with the rest of the album. The closer, "Spirits Procession," expands upon the themes set before it, and works as a nice climax to the album. Using brighter pianos and leaving the swirling synths at the back, "Spirits" plays like the resolution after the climax of a horror film. Long and sample heavy, this one is far removed from the grimness of earlier tracks, but the underlying tone of terror is the same.
Spirit Mantra's Where Ghosts Play is an engaging bit of synthesizer storytelling, aided by numerous samples. The ability to shift between grim and bright without losing anything is quite a talent, and will help Spirit Mantra to continue to make enjoyable records in the future. Paul Casey