The Death Of Money
Ghost Pains LP

01. New Son
02. Wherever You Are
03. Outside Emptiness
04. Hospital Bed
05. Ghost Pains
06. Running Through Dreams
07. Only Everything
08. Coda
09. Trust The Outsiders

"Running Through Dreams" features Jarboe.

"Ghost Pains" is the third full-length by this long-running Welsh trio, this time with a slightly shortened version of their moniker. As before they blend an appreciation for modern, heavy music together with an experimental edge to create a swirling, hypnotic maelstrom of repetitive, naturally grooving stoner-rock, kind of like Neurosis meets My Bloody Valentine meets Sonic Youth meets Can.

Release date 17/02/17.

LP co-released with the band.

Ltd. to 250 copies on heavy black vinyl.

Deaf Sparrow
Losing youth is more painful to those who pay attention, or to whom it matters. There’s a breaking point for all of us when age itself has complete control of what we are. When our hair is streaked with silver, when the skin is loose on the bones, and the flesh translucent, the effect of age can crumble. In many cultures this process is more poignant for women, whose bodies constantly strive towards an unattainable totem formed from masks, paint, jewelry, perfumes, and false, manipulated images. We decry such processes, yet they’re older than we think. Once, in a suitcase of old family portraits at a sale, I found an old photograph of a bride taken in the 1950s. She seemed stuck in an age of naive purity, her hair shining and her skin beautifully opaque, from a time where everything was more pure and we had few questions about what it all meant. Then, below it, under another photograph, I found its counterpart, and I saw the truth. What I found was a young girl covered with natural imperfections, her lower back bulbous, her stomach slightly round, a sagging under her eyes, and, more profound, lines delicately drawn on the photograph all over her body. They were corrections in order to create the final image, the first one I saw, the one that was never real. Touching up photographs is like touching up the face or body, a surface trick to hide imperfections. If one’s identity becomes too attached to appearance, specifically our raw nudity, when it falls the rest of our being goes with it. As I look at the cover of this LP, I can imagine the pains of such a woman, watching eyeliner drag along weakening skin, and the feeling hitting her that she is but a ghost walking. A ghost fading, slowly, that yet breathes and grasps at every last strand of the fabric that covered the truth floating away into nothing. Pulling at her skin, covering her fading youth with color, it’s a feeling that becomes inescapable when it hits. And thus begins the Ghost Pains.I feel this way too much because I’m so enthralled by death. I always have been, and especially in widespread belief concerning ghosts, something that every culture has a native tradition of, or one which assimilated those of others. Ghosts, yes, I could read a good ghost story from the 19th century probably every night, and I kind of wish I had a soundtrack, something modern though, that captured that essence of fading away. I like beautiful death and the mental anguish that comes before it, so let me introduce you to an interesting three piece from out of the United Kingdom, who, considering they’ve been around since 2007, under a slightly different name originally (The Death of Her Money), have surprisingly yet to get the attention from the underground they deserve. Their rather impressive discography, which you can check out by clicking here, is basically flawless from inception to this newest work, Ghost Pains. No background needed before I move ahead and explain, but seriously take some time and let their music sink a bit of age into your soul before I continue. These aren’t reviews anymore, you should remember, these are experiences. Ghost Pains takes genre-mashing to the level it always needs to be at for this type of post-rock. The Death of Money cover their work in tags, but unlike a desperate band searching for meaning through digital manipulation, much like cosmetics, they deserve all of them. Post-goth, post-metal, experimental, doom, and just add some -gaze to basically any of it. As usual, I loved the cover before I listened to it, and then I sank into some sort of bizarre loathing and enjoyment of approaching physical decay. Ghost Pains edged up out of a dark corner with its spectral hands peeling away my false layers, albeit slowly. Considering this band’s a three-piece, the expression they manage to pull together is commendable. The key is it doesn’t take effects or multiple tracks. It instead absolutely requires a musician’s connection to their instrument so their emotions are channeled into itlike part of their body, a further expression of internal, amorphous forms we turn into ideas and expressions. For a band to strike at the heart of their listener, not only does each musician need this connection, it has to extend to the others, creating a Gestalt being whose output becomes the Holy Trinity of Gothic-doom-gaze-experimental. The rapport one can sense between these three isn’t just strong, it’s internalized. Each instrument plays on the other, swarming around the central focus of the vocals by Darren Kaskie, who moans as though each syllable is carried on his last breath. There’s a longing here, a sadness, a beautiful sense of personal decline. Few bands can capture this type of sound without losing themselves in one genre or another, or without fading themselves after the one track that really grabs you. Not here, I was grabbed by all of it, it all pressed broken lipstick under my eye and tore off my skin. Perhaps the reason The Death of Money has yet to achieve a wider following is they don’t just fit everywhere, they fit nowhere. You have to want to be a part of what they do, to really sense the internal drama of their music and what it means, and since most of us are too connected to our technology to remember we’re all on a slow path of decline, perhaps it will never happen. But I’d rather be one of the few who “gets it” then one of the majority who only does at the end for a few brief shares on Facebook. People consume things too quickly these days, and this is something that is consumed over time, and then again, and again. Remember that kind of listening? Get back into it.

Echoes & Dust
Regular readers of my reviews (yeah, right, who am I kidding?) will notice that I tend to favour conventionally heavy music – metal, hardcore and post-metal are usually my bailiwick. Every so often it’s good to challenge yourself to listen to something new though, so I thought I’d give Ghost Pains a go, and inadvertently stumbled onto a completely different type of heavy – and don’t let the lack of crunching riffs, screams and blastbeats fool you, The Death Of Money have crafted one of the heaviest releases of the year. Ghost Pains is crafted from the same kind of shoegaze, ‘post’ driven ambience that Jesu is cut from, but with an even greater capacity for restraint. It is an emotionally driven experience; it ranks as one of the bleakest records I’ve heard in a long time. The Death Of Money (recently re-named from The Death Of Her Money) have been around for over 10 years, releasing two full lengths and a handful of EPs prior to their name-change earlier this year. Shamefully, I’ve been completely unaware of their presence; since taking on this review I’ve been back and downloaded their back catalogue (free from their Bandcamp, see the link above) and have been able to track their evolution from a post-metal / noise band that relied on the use of slow but crushing riffs and volume to pummel the listener into submission to the more delicate and developed approach that is demonstrated on Ghost Pains, which ultimately leads to the same endpoint. ‘New Son’ opens the record with a repeated refrain, built upon with layers of piano and faintly new wave sounding guitar, before the addition of some distorted Neurosis style yelling low in the mix, before the main riff drops in behind the refrain and a haunting melodic vocal takes the forefront for the chorus. Percussion is used sparingly, and this contributes to the central contradiction that Ghost Pains presents throughout its running time – that of open space that allows the song structures to breathe, but also an overbearing sense of oppression for the listener. ‘Wherever You Are’ is one of the more ‘conventionally heavy’ songs on the record and drifts closely to Jesu territory, albeit with a far more organic delivery to the percussion, which humanises the song wonderfully; there’s no hint of shouting here, with the haunting, reverb soaked vocal taking the lead, and some lovely keyboard adding a lush but icy layer to the second half of the song. ‘Outside Emptiness’ perfectly reflects the sparse, bleak beauty of its title, featuring a wonderful guitar riff over the chorus, mirroring and accentuating the vocal line. The smooth, lush production really opens up the sound, it gives the guitars some grit, but not so much that they overpower, another demonstration of the restraint that is prevalent throughout the record from top to bottom; there are no big riffs, no big dynamic shifts, just growth and progression, and a knack for letting the almost poppy vocal hooks breathe and take the lead. When I say ‘poppy’ I mean Joy Division pop, by the way, not Miley Cyrus pop, just to be clear. Jarboe adds her not inconsiderable vocal talents to ‘Running Through Dreams’, adding an ethereal quality to an already floating song, the only issue with this is that at two and a half minutes, it is way too short and feels a bit under-developed. Similarly, ‘Coda’ feels like it could have done with a little more time in the writing room before heading into the studio, feeling a little insubstantial in its content, even if specific sections – such as the lovely distorted solo line that starts over the mid-section – are note-worthy. ‘Hospital Bed’ is almost percussion free, relying on a simple repeating phrase on a reverb soaked guitar and a hypnotic, repeated vocal pattern. It elicits an emotional response, but also acts as a refined palette cleanser after the more bombastic songs that precede it. The title track follows and is probably the strongest track on the album, playing with more textures and almost channelling a Type O Negative vibe in places. Subtle keyboard lines and an extended build up to a final section that feels almost uplifting leads to a nice change in tone; this is achieved by cleverly layering sounds to create something warm and quite lovely. ‘Trust The Outsiders’ is a brilliant piece of wilful songwriting – holding a build and riff for ages, and then refusing to give the listener any kind of payoff; it is frustrating in all the right ways and a perfect way to end the album. Ghost Pains is a challenging record. It blends post-rock, doom and shoegaze perfectly, albeit emphasising the shoegaze element. It has an emotionality to it that is affecting to the listener, and it’s a record that has stayed with me and some of the refrains have literally kept me awake at night. I’ve come back to it time and time again over the last few weeks; partly because some of those ambient vocal lines are hidden earworms, but mostly because it is just a damn good record. If shoegaze and doom are your thing, this is definitely a record to check out; I’m a convert.

What can I honestly say about The Death of Money? That I love them like brothers, that I honestly miss the word 'Her' that once stood in their name like a puzzling sentence lifted from a trash novella? Nah, let's focus on the music. Once a crushing and simplistic band intent on crushing the listener to dust with repetition and amp abuse, the trio who now span Manchester and Welsh origins have almost put their old moniker to the crypt. The new, leaner name comes with a more orchestrated and epic feel. Where before songs pounded away to hypnotic levels, the songs that form Ghost Pains have the spirit of the past but with a more considered and nuanced approach. The broad brushstrokes of their old sound are there underneath, but there's a finer painting of textures here, songs dip their toes in careful dynamics and the wash of effects makes it a captivating listen from the start. There's hints within the songs that influences have been expanded over the years, the crushing bleakness is still omnipresent, but a softer edge to songs like the dreamy Wherever You Are belie record collections that could encompass Jesu and perhaps 80s pop alongside the Corrupted, My Bloody Valentine and Sleep. The aesthetic is still a sense of high emotion and that feeling of wading through treacle still pervades all told. This is being billed as the group's third full-length, but it does enough to throw off the shackles of the past 12 years. The cleaner vocals that Kaskie has started to favour over his old screech add a sadness to the music that might have been missing before. The mournful Outside Emptiness drips with reverb and a sense of reverence to loss. The title track acts as a centrepiece here, gently emerging like a winter sun, eventually exploding with cold light when the mood is right. The gentle strains it promises to begin with arch their back to appear bigger and when the payoff drops it's a strange, minor chord that hooks you in. It sounds huge, but with a sadness there too. Ex-Swans oracle and all-round brilliant vocalist Jarboe appears on the short, but sweet Running Through Dreams which relies on an other-worldly haze and hue that recalls the more lucid moments of Echo & The Bunnymen at times. This flattened, grainy feel can be used as a great descriptor for the album as a whole. It's life through a blurred lens, a smudged image of watching yourself living. Halfway between dreams and a bleary-eyed reality. All beautiful, all the time. Give it a listen, it's like plunging into warm water and floating.

Des Cendres A La Cave
D’accord, rien de bien nouveau sous le soleil noir : d’abord, des grosses guitares maintes et maintes fois entendues ailleurs. Et puis une basse, maousse elle aussi. La batterie n’est pas en reste, elle martèle ce qu’il faut et tabasse rarement mais quand elle le fait, elle y va franchement. Tout ça fleure bon tous ces trucs à base de metal, hardcore et compagnie affublés du préfixe post. Au bout d’un morceau, on sait déjà qu’on vient d’en faire le tour. Mais on se plante complètement. D’abord, là où l’on s’attend à entendre hurlement guttural et cri forcément primal se tient en fait une voix en retrait, claire la plupart du temps, fantomatique et lointaine, enfouie quelque part sous l’épais canevas. Franchement neurasthénique, elle laboure les tréfonds sans jamais effleurer la surface. Ensuite, des claviers – pas franchement plus guillerets – hantent les morceaux et leur présence renforce grandement le côté purement mélancolique du maelström qui se tient tout autour. Enfin, à bien y regarder, les riffs se montrent salement hypnotiques et visent le spleen plus souvent qu’à leur tour. Curieux mélange. On pensait se retrouver à labourer un pré carré déjà circonscrit (Neurosis, Isis, ce genre, Godflesh aussi) et en creusant les sillons, on se retrouve ailleurs, du côté du post-punk versant The Cure. Disque Janus partagé entre violence et vraie tristesse, lourdeur et finesse, Ghost Pains, troisième album de The Death Of Money, intrigue et surtout, emprisonne. Ici, on travaille les textures, on désarticule l’ossature mais on ne la casse pas, on arrondie juste les angles à la serpe tout en laissant quelques échardes bienvenues lézarder la surface. Bref, on insuffle du poids au manque de lumière et on dessine une musique tout aussi séduisante que retorse, tangentielle et donc floue. Le trio se tient sur les frontières mais n’en franchit aucune et puise toute sa singularité de sa posture funambule. Même quand il invite Jarboe sur un morceau, il fait tout pour qu’on ne puisse pas la reconnaître. En cela, on le rapprochera volontiers d’autres équilibristes comme True Widow par exemple. Si ce n’est que The Death Of Money est insulaire – ce sont des Gallois de Cardiff – et que cela s’entend. Leur vibration est beaucoup moins doom et rien ne les empêche de balancer un Hospital Bed purement fantomatique et à poil, envahi par une épaisse nappe de brouillard. Leur post-punk arachnéen se double d’accents shoegaze qui achèvent de précipiter l’ensemble dans les limbes. Dès lors, Ghost Pains place beaucoup de légèreté dans un environnement par ailleurs bien plombé et transmet son spleen sans difficulté. Wherever You Are, Running Through Dreams ou Only Everything qui vient juste après exposent leurs hématomes au grand jour et ne cachent jamais leur sensibilité derrière un impénétrable mur du son. Le trio n’hésite pas à réduire les potards pour laisser la mélodie occuper les devants quand le besoin s’en fait sentir et tout cela sans maniérisme aucun. Tout dans la suggestion, rien dans la démonstration. The Death Of Money ne se regarde pas pleurer et ne veut pas qu’on l’accompagne. Il pleure et c’est déjà bien assez. Empruntant ici et là pour dessiner une voie qui lui est propre, c’est bien sur celui-là que le groupe semble s’être trouvé. En témoignent les deux premiers longs formats bien différents, Spirit Of The Stairwell et You Are Loved, où le trio s’appelait encore The Death Of Her Money : les mêmes intentions mais pas encore cet équilibre qui fait sonner Ghost Pains si bien aujourd’hui. Intense et accaparant, Ghost Pains accompagne idéalement l’hiver déclinant et pousse à se rouler en chien de fusil sur ses idées grises.

Outlaws Of The Sun
Welsh trio The Death Of Money return, having dropped the Her from their name, with their best album yet, the breathtaking Ghost Pains, an album that grows better after each listen. Ghost Pains is a heavy record, not only sonically but more in terms of its spirit and the feelings that the music evokes and the whole experience is a hypnotic and harrowing but extremely rewarding trip through the bands music. The album gets off to a crushing start from the very first notes of opening song New Son and the sheer power of the music of The Death Of Money takes hold of you immediately and doesn't let go until the last wail of feedback on closing track Trust The a outsiders ring out. There are elements of each song that let you catch your breath that are necessary before the hypnotic power of the music grabs you by the throat again and passes you through an emotional wringer, it is that powerful. The repetition of mantras works in the bands favour throughout the record, encasing you in a sense of familiarity but there are always surprises lurking that take a hold you when you are least expecting it. There is a calmness on the album too but it is a foreboding calm that works in tandem with that element of surprise and this is the true beauty of Ghost Pains. Songs such as Hospital Bed and the albums title track are beautifully realised songs and show a different kind of heaviness, a trait that is littered throughout the album. The music on here is a soul crushing morphing of the sheer power of Neurosis with the stealthy overwhelming power of My Bloody Valentine, and if it sounds this good on record then it can only sound even better in a live environment. That Neurot connection is cemented by the appearance of Neurosis collaborator and Swans chanteuse Jarboe on the triumphant Running Through Dreams, a bewitching mix of the bands hazy riffs and the ethereal majesty of Jarboe's voice, one of the greatest voices ever, her vocals soar between being hypnotic and simply beautiful as only she can and although there is a stillness to the track, it is heavy on a way that most bands cannot comprehend. By the time the album reaches its climax with the mighty closing trio of the vast loneliness of Only Everything, the caustic vibe of Coda and perfect album closer, the painfully joyful Trust The Outsiders, the bands vision has been truly realised. Ghost Pains is an all encompassing triumph of an album and one that The Death Of Money should be truly proud of. This is the sound of the bands ethos fully realised, Painful, heartbreaking but uplifting too. A simply stunning record.

This Noise Is Ours
It’s oppressively warm this evening (not something you say about Yorkshire often), still stoner/noise and wine awaits. The Death Of Money are a band I’ve always known about but never come into full contact with so I’m putting that right this evening. “Ghost Pains” opener New Son is a mix of all kinds of sounds and vibes. The mid-paced rock and chimes that provide the foundations for the screamed vocals during the early verse seem to be a odds but work well. The clean vocals provide a sinister edge as well as drama. Wherever You Are feels and indeed sounds very low-fi. I’m okay with that though as it’s also catchy in a goth-like way. Not surprising really when their sound is described as “Neurosis meets My Bloody Valentine meets Sonic Youth meets Can”. There are brief moments of atmospheric calm on “Ghost Pains” thought they usually reside at the beginning of songs, like on Outside Emptiness. The Death Of Money’s stoner groove is more than that genre tag would suggest though, being oddly psychedelic and trance-like. Cinematic post-music is becoming more and more appealing to me especially since I can’t stop spinning the new Pallbearer and Mastodon records and while this comparison may be slightly skewed, I’d include The Death Of Money is the same kind of musical bracket. Hospital Bed is bleak but also calming in it’s delivery, almost ritualistic. The title-track is a crushingly angular standout on the record. It’s not angular in a tech-metal kind of way but it’s got a jarring and unnerving guitar sound that spills over into metallic realms at certain points. The clean vocals remind me a bit of Muse too. The addition of Jarboe’s vocals on Running Through Dreams is inspired. They add another layer to the band’s music and even though the song itself is short by their terms, it’s offers welcome respite. Once again the trio’s mournful side takes over during the initially minimal Only Everything. What follows it is slow but beautiful doom. The second half of the record is definitely more left-field and Coda’s choral melodies are like listening to a gospel radio show. Last song Trust The Outsiders ventures back towards the sound that filled earlier songs but with added grunge. It’s a great song to end on and it underlines the creativity of the band. So good.