Peter Wright decided to make available this latest outing as an interim free download, “until someone wants to issue it on a real format”. We sincerely look forward to a thorough repayment of his openhandedness, especially in virtue of the high value of this gift. Ghost Haven is a part of a trilogy of meditations about the port of Lyttleton, the artist’s residence and the theatre of a terrible earthquake that devastated the Christchurch district just over a year ago. The psychological effects of such a tragedy are hard to manage, but Wright is not a man who sits and cries. This notwithstanding, the music – recorded in the same period of Let’s Hide Under The House Until They’re Gone – stands among the most disquieting ever that the New Zealander has released. Considering that it was created before the catastrophe, it nearly reads like a bad presage now.
The title track mixes the usual cascades of droning materials and coarse distortions with elements of semi-coherent melody and – towards the end of the piece – a three-minute barrage of heavy drumming. Indistinct voices seems to have been concealed inside the mix, singing – better, howling – during the tense crescendo that catapults the whole into its own dramatic orbit (incidentally, Orbit is the name of the third part of the triptych, coming up on Install). “Even The Driftwoods Eventually Returns To Shore” is another sinister beauty, slightly quieter yet still replete with a sense of trepidation. Here, Wright utilizes lots of urban echoes and other sorts of location recordings (including birds and a faraway barking dog, who seals the envelope of evocation together with what I perceive as the washing of local sea water). The aforementioned hyper-processed voices are also heard in this context, this time under the guise of spoken snippets disaggregated by equalization, ghosts taking possession of the city for good.
A marvelously unsettling record, carrying hundreds of emotional impulses that no word can translate.