Kentro I: Blank Mantra by Wander as Ghosts

Release date: June 23, 2017
Label: Self-Released

Wander as Ghosts’ distorted mash-up Kentro I: Blank Mantra may just be the perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse. Or rather, it’s the sound of the apocalypse actually happening, with incredibly noisy bits and some reassuring peaceful sections in between all the action. The five-track EP contains a bewildering array of musical styles and influences, from full-on tech metal, hardcore and hard techno to trancey space-out passages, interspersed with tuneful vocals and random samples, often all in the same track. The effect on the listener is unease followed by some excitement. But it works!

Wander as Ghosts are a two piece based in London and Bristol. By their own admission they’re a “psychedelic death metal electronica group”, which obviously clears up any problems with trying to pigeonhole them (you can’t). This EP is the first of a trio due out over the next year. Material on the group’s Soundcloud page covers the many and varied sounds referenced above, with gorgeous trancey tracks, heavier more metallic material and lots of messing about with samples. But this EP seems the most dense yet, with a collision of many sounds on one track, often leading to a disorienting feeling and a growing respect for their songcrafting abilities.

‘Constanza’ starts in metal mode: huge riffs, frenzied vocals and a pounding beat. It mixes techno samples with the guitar attack. There’s angst in the singer’s voice, and it’s a cathartic release. Within a couple of minutes it backs off a little and introduces an ambient soundscape, but only for a moment. That’s followed by a high-speed synth wig-out that and then relaxes and goes back to the ambient soundscape, which takes over for the rest of the track. As mad as it sounds, it’s handled well, and doesn’t sound bolted together. Like I said, Wander as Ghosts are quite the songsmiths.

The industrial electro that introduces ‘Sunk’ makes way for frenzied vocals interspersed by trippy bits and more conventional singing of the chorus. The acerbic breakdown mid-track reminds you that ‘conventional’ is not a term that applies for long, however. Electronica takes over in ‘HAM’, including wispy samples of female chanting from a God Machine track plus a repeated riff from an urgent, distorted keyboard. It’s the simplest track, in that it sounds similar all the way through.

‘Stomp’ does exactly that: a boot to the back of the head from the off, with a driving tech metal riff that slowly gets woven among a repetitive vocal sample and thunderous drumming. The mixture of synth and heavy guitar works seamlessly on this track, perhaps the most accomplished of the whole EP. We shouldn’t expect Wander as Ghosts to play by the book, however, so the last minute of this 3.17 track switches completely is an ambient dreamscape complete with tinkling noises. Obviously.

Final song ‘Hallucigenia’ is reminiscent of its title, with a dreamy, spacey ambient feel that includes distorted rap sample in the hazy mix. It goes all metal in the middle, introducing a crunchy riff in among the ambience, catching the listener off balance once more.

As a body of work Kentro I showcases what Wander as Ghosts are capable of. They can build incredible variation of sound and feel into their music, often switching in a heartbeat, and rarely making the transition feel anything other than completely natural. It makes for an intriguing listen. It feels like only part of the set, however, so I look forward to seeing whether Kentro II and III will complete the circle.

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