While God is an Astronaut has become a more dynamic and versatile band, they’ve also lost some of the atmosphere that once made them great. They are clearly more talented and better at playing together, but something has been lost. There is a lack of patience in the tracks on their new album, which is called Ghost Tapes #10.
The songs are well-paced and have interesting bridges and solos. Yet there is something missing. The rhythms are more complex than ever. It seems as though the record was written in the room together, which can be very magical, but it can also lead to a lack of cogent artistic vision. The performances are on point and there are some fantastic crescendos involved here, especially the ending of the second track “Burial.”
The intro to “In Flux” sounds so much like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and while it is a captivating moment, it is too on the nose. It doesn’t build up slowly like GY!BE tracks do. The drums kick off the build up with a fast rhythm. It is actually too fast. There is no opportunity for backbeat or finesse. There are more satisfying grooves in the third and fourth tracks “In Flux” and “Spectres” but they both end too quickly. The album doesn’t flow very well.
By the fifth track this listener wants a slower pace more than anything. The bass groove here is amazing, but again the pace is too quick. What impressed this listener about the quick pace in the beginning has now become boring. Still the tremolo picking here is satisfying and powerful. The arpeggios during the climax blend into the beautiful fuzz. It might be the best track on the album.
The penultimate track on the record begins with an intro of piano and reverse-delayed guitar, but it doesn’t last long until the rest of the band comes in. God is an Astronaut seems to be conforming to their fan’s lack of attention span. There needs to be more patience in the arrangements to make the intense moments of the record more impactful. Even the greatest moments on this record are dulled by how quickly the band gets there.
Finally, the last track “Luminous Waves” shows some restraint. The acoustic guitar is gorgeous with the swirling atmosphere and cello that sway around it, dancing together cohesively. There are no drums, but somehow that is what makes the song stand out amongst the rest. Ghost Tapes #10 is over quickly. The album suffers from it. The work could have been much more patient and the band could have used their dynamics to their advantage.