Grand Rapids, Michigan is the home to the Ford Presidential Library, and is also known as the office furniture capital of the world. Soon it may be known as the home of Ghost Heart, who released their first album, The Tunnel, on January 28. The four piece features Tim Broderick (vocals, percussion, samples, keyboard), Cedric Canero (guitar, percussion, vocals), Justin Gray (guitar, percussion, vocals), and Troy Reimink (guitar, bass, percussion, vocals). Yes, everyone sings and everyone plays some type of percussive instrument, creating a lively atmosphere that is primal (think drum circle) and at other times ethereal (think the clouds part and you’re floating in air). Maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but the truth is that Ghost Heart is an ambitious outfit. They are not afraid to put it all out there, and that’s what makes The Tunnel a very good first effort.
On this album, there are periods of calm serenity (Phantom Heart, Wherever You Are), which are more meditations than songs. There also periods of light, and by that I mean that tracks balance rhythm and harmony to convey exuberance, community, and contemplation. Examples of this include: No Canticle, Wilderness, and Little Vampires.The first half of the album is very consistent in its reach for the light. The album takes a distinct turn with the track, Breath.
Breath starts off serenely, but about four and a half minutes into it, Breath becomes nearly cacophonous with layers of guitars and harmonies that are emotive and powerful. It’s an active transition in the album, because the tracks that follow, Salty Sea andBlack Air, are distinctly different and far darker than the ebullience of the first five tracks. It was at this point that I started looking at The Tunnel as one composition, as opposed to a series of tracks. The sequencing of the album provides a discernible arc to it. The product ends up being an extensive tapestry woven together with percussion and harmonies, and decorated by guitar and bass licks, keyboards, and subtle samples. In keeping with the entire composition, the closing track, Human Elements, slowly begins to emerge from the darkness and identifies those human elements (i.e., hope, faith, commitment) we often offer out of love for each other.
Be sure to put on a good pair of headphones, you’ll get a lot out of The Tunnel.