Paul Haslinger

Exit Ghost

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Exit Ghost is former Tangerine Dream member Paul Haslinger's first solo album since the 1990s, when he released a few acclaimed albums of world fusion, mixing Middle Eastern and African influences with elements of industrial, ambient, and trip-hop. Since then, he's written dozens of soundtracks for films, television series, and video games, in addition to forming the Neuland project with Peter Baumann, another TD alumnus. Eight years in the making, Exit Ghost is an intimate neo-classical work mainly centered around patient, considered grand piano melodies. There are some electronic elements present, but nothing close to synthesizer arpeggios or beats. The melodies are delicately stirring and gently dramatic at times, occasionally rising a bit, but never packed with the level of tension and release required for cinematic cues. The arrangements and production are surreal and dreamlike -- pay attention and you'll hear eerie, backwards voices and clicking or rustling noises. The brief title track additionally features a haunting radio transmission along with its foggy bass and floating guitar notes. "Intrinsic" is a bit closer to Penguin Cafe territory, but slightly more electric, with an innocent, music box-like melody tugged along by calm but busy strings and faintly tapped percussion. The slow, violin-laden waltz "Valse I" takes on a more funereal tone, while the hallucinatory "Shuiyeh" is one of the album's strangest moments, with reversed notes rising out of a cloud of chattering voices. Lengthy closing piece "Alcina" starts out sounding like music for a daytime drama, but halfway through it seems to lose balance and space out, only to drift towards a sweet, serene ending. Serving a much different purpose than much of Haslinger's work, Exit Ghost feels like much more of an inward journey, taking more risks than some of his commissioned work.

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