Review: Martina Bertoni – All The Ghosts Are Gone


Total change is only possible through the obliteration of the current form. It cannot be appended to the existing entity. Old shapes need to be broken down and wielded as raw source material once more, reduced to a powder of pure possibility, released from the structures that force creation one way or another. The cello is the subject of this transformation on All The Ghosts Are Gone, and thus the process feels particularly physical: buckled wood and fractured curves, splinters pushing up through varnish like teeth. Piles of noise gather at the edges like mounds of swept-up debris, with bits of cello carcass visible amidst the fragments of distortion and electronics. Yet at the centre, there’s a quivering shock of colour: a solitary bowed string reaching upward like a budding flower. The first signs of rebirth emerge amidst the ruins.

It’s no surprise that All The Ghosts Are Gone feels like a painful undertaking. Melody is scarce and its manifestation is either wilted or nascent, running the brink between death and life like a hairline crack. Elsewhere, the creaks of cello seams skulk the interstice like the ghosts of the title, rendered homeless by transition. Somehow Bertoni manages to capture both a wretched physicality – strings wrenched from body, wood buckled into kindling – and a despondent formlessness, smearing action into echo, framing this material destruction within a context of existential uncertainty. Often, we find that liminality is depicted in pale watercolour shades, floating above the physical domain altogether; Bertoni’s music reimbues this process with emotional labour and broken body.