Madeleine - 2015
Mysterious and beguiling, this is a highly enjoyable and melodic album of intricate chamber jazz arrangements for the small and medium sized ensemble. While hinting at avant influences, there is nothing at all difficult about Madeleine, and its high musicality should appeal to a wider audience than the description “chamber jazz” may entice.
With Madeleine, Ghost Rhythms have made a captivating and highly musical tribute to the cinematic classic Vertigo sound like the easiest thing in the world to pull off. A must for any jazz fan, and for any music fan not put off by the word “jazz” and not hidebound by genre restrictions.
Massively fun and ornately detailed, the large ensemble Ghost Rhythms have created an adaptation of the movie score to Vertigo, but told through the eyes of poor, troubled Madeleine.
At use are influences of folk music, modern jazz and a slight nod to pop music and ambient minimalism. But the mix of ingredients comes out full-bodied, a singular blend of one music perspective, and the individual characteristics only peek out here and there. The ensemble speaks with one voice and one voice alone.
All of this leads to some stunning moments of beauty. This, however, isn’t an obstacle for the display of a sense of humor and fun on this seriously compelling album. Madeleine is one of the best things to be released in the first half of 2015.
Live at Yoshiwara - 2019
This performance is set in an imaginary place, evoking a dreamlike atmosphere (which is further extended in the individual credits for the tracks, listing a wide variety of times and places).
The group's instrumentation allows for a great deal of timbral variety, and all ten members have space to contribute. In addition to the chamber jazz suggested by this combination, they make stops in rock, funk and modern jazz territory. It's a fun ride, full of energy and variety. Despite the elaborate conceptual setup, it is arty rock at its unpretentious best.
Mark Sullivan / All About Jazz
There are bands operating in the avant-jazz realm that are all-out crazy energy all the time. Then there are bands like Ghost Rhythms that are more subtle and subversive, lulling listeners into a sense of familiarity with the music and gradually building up to something outside mainstream expectations, so you might not notice how different they are all at once.
Imaginary Mountains - 2020
Few bands can move so comfortably between the lines of progressive rock, fusion and minimalism and yet retain a versatile and homogeneous orchestral line-up like the French Ghost Rhythms. No matter the size of the this ensemble, they meet the same outcome whether they are recording an imaginary soundtrack or a live gig.
At the end, their music has a very unique flavor that masterfully balances wistful melodies, angular polyrhythmic grooves, aggressive rock orchestrations with groovy fusionesque tainting. Then it’s easy to expect that their new release Imaginary Mountains could all but not show all those aspects and provide some exhilarating moments.
Ghost Rhythms are always blasting and fun, melodic, yet creating complex music thanks to advanced orchestration, a thirst for extending the realms of progressive, chamber and fusion music; and yet Imaginary Mountains makes no exception.
Marcello Nardi / Music for Watermellons
With its fifth album Imaginary Mountains, Paris’ Ghost Rhythms continues on its idiosyncratic path as one of the most unique and gifted instrumental bands in the world. As always, the band takes its cavalcade of influences – jazz, progressive rock, folk, classical music, chanson – and applies them to a cornucopia of melodies, moods and textures.
With the band’s skill and creative fire at their peak, Imaginary Mountains lives up to its title, truly becoming an odyssey of struggle, determination and triumph – in other words, successfully climbing a mountain.
Michael Toland / The Big Takeover
For their follow-up to the excellent Live at Yoshiwara (2019), French band Ghost Rhythms presents Imaginary Mountains, which is probably even better. Tracks such as “Tumuc Humac” take the listener on a wonderful trip through varying moods with interesting rhythmic interplay between piano, guitar, accordion, bass, drums, and woodwinds, combining repeated motifs like a more rock-oriented Philip Glass or a more-orchestrated Sonar, mathy guitar riffs, and wordless vocals.
In spite of the expansive instrumentation, there’s a lightness to the music that manages to embody complexity without overt denseness. Imaginary Mountains is another great release from Ghost Rhythms, well worth the attention of all fans of adventurous music.
Jon Davis - Expose
Imaginary Mountains music was born in the middle of the french lockdown in March 2020 ; as the COVID spread in the country of France and all over the world, everyone was quarantined, gigs cancelled, and weekly rehearsals became impossible.
So Camille Petit and Xavier Gélard, Ghost Rhythms’ leaders, decided to try to make, like many musicians, music even if distance complicated things, and to record at home.
This slight frontier between imagination and reality - as more that one explorer, like the young Raymond Maufrais, devoted his life to find those mountains, that only existed on paper - proved to be a perfect frame for Ghost Rhythms’ new compositions, which were to explore the way dreams, thoughts and concepts shape our reality.
As a record, Imaginary Mountains signs Camille Petit and Xavier Gélard’s collaborative writing return. Their work was highly praised when their cinematic album, Madeleine, was released in 2015. The pair’s strong interaction shows again in the variety of musical forms, choice of timbres, and cohesiveness.
Spectral Music - 2021
Spectral Music is the second Ghost Rhythms album to be produced during the Covid times of remote recording. As with Imaginary Mountains (2020) before it, the musicians had to be recorded separately, though certainly the quality of the music doesn’t suffer. Many musicians, producers, and listeners like to talk about the magic of “musicians playing together in a room,” but in fact wonderful music can result from other processes just as well.
These are very sophisticated compositions, but not at all inaccessible — The bottom line is that anyone who has liked previous Ghost Rhythms albums is sure to enjoy this one, and it’s an excellent introduction for those who’ve never heard the band.
Jon Davis / Expose
After the self-produced Imaginary Mountains (2020) French experimental collective Ghost Rhythms returns to Cuneiform Records with Spectral Music, a sequel to Live At Yoshiwara (Cuneiform Records, 2019). With eleven pieces, it is a band with a wide range of tonal colors.
As always, this music is a winning and eclectic blend of rock, classical, and folk music. Forced to employ more overdubbing than usual due to the pandemic, it nonetheless retains the energy of an ensemble accustomed to playing together live.
Mark Sullivan / All About Jazz
Parisian ensemble Ghost Rhythms opens its sixth album, Spectral Music, with a sound you don’t usually hear on one of its records: a human voice. Amongst the nimble rhythm moves, ambient string sounds, myriad keyboards and jazz/prog melodies there’s some actual singing – a seemingly unusual move for this primarily instrumental band, until you realize the sound is so buried in the mix as to become texture rather than communicative force.
“Thoughtography” and “L’Autre Versant” bring all of the Ghosts’ virtues to a head: multiple rhythms, stupendous melodies, jazz improvisation, a broad instrumental pallet, ambitious arrangements, and a sense of music as pure expression, an antidote to what the band thinks of as the manufactured telepathy of remote communication.
Michale Toland / The Big Takeover