Album Review – Melancholy by Ghost Mail (self released) (2021)
Ghost Mail is one of those perfect ‘cassette acts’ that tend to suddenly surface, grab the attention of a few micro bloggers that matter, garner a small but intensely loyal fanbase, before either disappearing forever, resurfacing in other guises, or eventually finding artistic inspiration to ‘go again’. All perfectly DIY in ethos, such acts are those surprises that lurk in the bedrooms of the world.
This solo project of Rudy Castillo is his first definitive ‘album’ since in over two years. However, it does not really feel like a ‘resurface’, considering the brilliance of the July 2019, A Collection of Songs release, (out of the Chord Organ cassette label) that bestowed upon the world a compilation of tracks recorded in his bedroom between 2016 and 2018. It was all perfect, lo-fi, slathering melancholy deep into a musical core replete with absolute jangled riffs.
Unsurprisingly, considering the name of this release, Castillo has not veered to far away from this general foundation on Melancholy and nor would his fans want him too, for it is why we clamber over each to get a hold of one of the extremely short run cassettes he offers with every release.
However, this is most certainly his most intense body of work. Such intensity is derived by a new found, total level of consistency, that forces a dominant, isolated jangled riff into each track, that feels like it engulfs a listener by filling the entire room. Other albums in 2021 may well contain beauty, but this, the first great album of 2021, is simply swathed in chiming jangled purity.
Such beauty is presented in two inextricably linked nuances that are effectively delineated by nothing more than tempo. The slower and majority of the tracks, really force home the sense of melancholy and are best represented by the simply stunning opener In Flowers, Holding On and Ur Pretty Eyes, which resonate and accentuate the downtrodden sense of vocal disinclination.
However, the very best of the album, is seen in tracks such as Luv, These Thoughts and Shatter when the percussive equipment is ramped up, the tempo increased via rumbling guitar lines and the chiming guitar riffs are giving the sort of energy that makes the sound of The Cry so intensely vibrant. It is not necessarily an energy that Ghost Mail fans would ordinarily and automatically associate with the act, but it is a dynamism that he sporadically imbues into all of his releases, as if to ensure some sort of energetic ying to the downtrodden yang.
Castillo does beautiful bedroom pop with ease. He is one of the most exact reasons why it is worth trawling through a 1000 acoustic versions of Oasis / The Beatles / Silver Jews covers that come out of the bedrooms all over the world. He, and indeed this release, represents those nuggets that can be found…and should be.