Review: AUN – Phantom Ghost

Whether the transition between Black Pyramid and Phantom Ghost was consciously executed or not, the transformation has been pretty drastic. Gone are the thick jets of sonic granite that characterised the likes of “Taurus”, and the reverberant distortion circulating across the grand expanse of “Phoenix”; Phantom Ghost feel comparatively loose and liberated, arriving as an embrace that encourages further outward exploration instead of shutting off the listener’s points of escape.

Repetition plays a central part, proving to be both to the album’s benefit and detriment. Track narratives are left largely static in order to emphasise the inner swirls of activity – clouds of harmony are constantly reshaped, leaving tonality and melodies as vague and ethereal presences that refuse to settle into tangible forms. Drumbeats tick and thud behind the gaseous texture, arguably anchoring the music with too much severity at some points; in particular, “Travellers” and “Orga II” aim to sound meditatively engrossed in their fixed states, and instead become in desperate need of onward movement. In contrast, “Ghost” gets it dead on, with a consistent thud on the first beat propelling the track upward in thick choral waves, culminating in the album’s tremendous climax.

Part of me feels as though Aun’s time in the darkness of Black Pyramid means that Phantom Ghost is a weary and uncertain attempt at adjusting to the light. It’s the sound of a band squinting in their emergence, devoid of the clarity required to assess how to best utilise their softer, more vibrant texture palette. And while sometimes they stumble into some beautiful ambient expanses, much of Phantom Ghost suggests that Aun are uncomfortable in the wake of such stark contrast.