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splendid > reviews > 2/23/2005
Kevin Moore
Kevin Moore
Ghost Book
Inside Out Music


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Rhodes Song"

Buy me now
It's unlikely that we'll ever fully understand Ghost Book. Moore wrote it for Okul, a Turkish comedy/horror film set in a high school. The film was in turn based on the novel Hayalet Kitap, meaning -- hey, surprise! -- "Ghost Book". Hayalet Kitap was a horror/romance novel set in a college. Guess whose music author Dogu Yocel wrote the book to? That's right, Kevin Moore's -- or rather, that of Chroma Key, Moore's pseudonym. That right there is some seriously cyclical context to wrap your head around.

There's some confusion as to whether Ghost Book is a soundtrack or simply a highlight reel from the score -- or, for that matter, the entire score. The label refers to it as soundtrack and score as though the words were interchangeable, and either description seems plausible. Moore's compositions are typically atmospheric, his subdued keyboards layering harmonics as often as building melodies, and operating slowly almost as a rule.

Opener "Rhodes Song", easily the most emotionally evocative track present, perfectly captures all the hope and apprehension of walking into a school for the first time. All those strangers -- some beautiful, some ugly. The uncertainty. Who will you be here? You'll be astounded at the degree of resonance Moore can achieve with his audience in just 94 seconds, given a keyboard and a few gentle percussive synths. The threadbare "Piano Theme" follows shortly; this must be where our hero meets his girl. It's very tender, sweet and timid. It contains exactly one chord.

"Far Fara" implies sex and violence and beauty all at once with its droning keyboards and militant chink-chink-chink beats. After this brief adrenaline burst, we sink into nearly inaudible atmospherics. For nearly inaudible atmospherics they are strangely powerful, communicating dramatic tension and urgency in a way well-suited to the sort of exposition that should generally happen in this phase of a film. The most aggressive cut is the unrepentantly gorgeous "Romantik", apparently written and performed by the mysterious Foe Sho. It's the sort of song that starts out sounding like a small orchestra playing the stuff they do when they want to just relax and enjoy a good tune, and ends up sounding like a submarine. You know, that sort. Then we're back to atmospherics for the duration of the ridiculously creepy "The Hecklers". "Mirrors and Phones" follows -- a sort of musical nexus from which you which could go to any of the other songs in Ghost Book -- it has got "Far Fara"'s brittle percussion without quite so much aggression, it has got "Piano Theme"'s tender composition, and at the end it explodes into something shimmering and violent, beautiful and terrible. Just as suddenly as it exploded, it disappears. If you were going to pick a single to sell the rest of these songs, this one would be it -- it's not the best, but it's guaranteed to attract the full spectrum of listeners who'll appreciate Moore's work.

Also worthy of note is Foe Sho's other contribution, "Erotik". Its total lack of subtlety (as if the sultry woman moaning "Yes, yes, do it!" weren't enough of a giveaway, the disco embellishments and touches of wah-wah guitar do the job pretty well on their own) makes it really, really stand out, but the release seems necessary for the score, or soundtrack, or whatever it is, to properly follow its dramatic arc. After a couple of additional tracks that bridge the gap between Moore's melodic and harmonic sides, we reach the final and ultimate release, "Afterschool". Damn, is it ever a happy, energetic little number! The drum machine beats are at their best, something that sounds suspiciously like a guitar is singing praises to freedom, and you get the general impression that something really awesome has just happened.

Closer (and obvious credit-companion) "Sad Sad Movie" could be the disc's best tune. Here, Moore strikes the best balance between the catchy electronica beats, comforting harmonics and enrapturing melodies he's been juggling. He even sings. It's like five and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated catharsis. In spite of the title, it's very uplifting.

You'll probably want to know a few things after listening to Ghost Book. You'll likely be damn curious about the movie that goes with it. You may be even more curious about the novel it was based on. Most of us won't be able to pursue those lines of investigation, though, and really, that's okay. Kevin Moore's work is more than capable of standing on its own.



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