If you drive west of Brisbane, through the beautiful countryside, you can reach Mount Nebo on the land of the indigenous Jinibara people. This is also the home of Ghostwoods, a new project by musician James Lees. Lees is better known in the scene for the more rock’n’roll style bands he drums with but he has found this didn’t quite feed his soul.
“During lockdown last year, I lost most of my work, so I had a lot of time and was pretty much isolated here at
my place in Mt Nebo so the seclusion and influence of the environment throughout the winter was really
strong. I had made a start on the project prior to this, but the lockdown made me turn back to the music for
solace. Another element of the project is for me to do some music with my partner Karl who plays bass and
some acoustic guitar – he also loves playing super-dark spooky music, so he agreed to this pretty readily!” – James Lees
There is the magical tinkling of chimes that heralds the dark tones of the slow, deep piano and cymbal that is “Dark Moon“. It might be a flute that mournfully cries like a storm bird in the night. Soon joined by an electric guitar that languidly plays as if it is somewhere on a grim bayou. Anticipation fills the air and dissipates again with chimes like the frost in the heat of a new day. There is something austere and aloof about “Spiral Up” and yet a sadness pervades throughout, until the saxophone invades to bring a sense of longing. All the while the synths swirl of pulsate beneath, a creature wanting to escape. The recording of parrots crying out at the beginning and end of the Panoptique Electrical remix of “Dark Moon” is so utterly Australian. The mix by Jason Sweeney, is such a powerful noise inspired soundscape that almost is on the edge of becoming overwhelming and yet does not. You could swear it was trying to consume the light and air around it as it becomes a vortex, circling. Final track is “Spiral Down” and this is a much more electronic in feel than “Spiral Up“, however oddly the flute in the back ground gives it an unearthly feel in combination. The morose tones of the blues sax in juxtaposition with the ground swell of electronic noise .
Though this is James Lees’ project where he played piano/synths/drums/percussion, he fortunate enough to collaborated with Mark Angel on electric guitars, Karl O’Shea on bass guitar/ acoustic guitar and who is also in the band Daylight Ghosts, as well as Andrew Saragossi playing flute/clarinet/saxophone. These are very emotive pieces created in a time of uncertainty, in a remote and timeless landscape and a lot of that seeps into music.The Ghostwoods are mysterious and once you go in, you might not come out the same way…….