Review: “Shape Without Form” by Ghost Toast

Hungarian experimental progressive rock band Ghost Toast first came to our attention with opening single “Frankenstein’s” which turned heads as Guitarist Rózsavölgyi Bence commented:
Frankenstein’s is mainly inspired by movie scores. The seemingly different, theatrical piano intro and the heavier, odd time signature part are sewn together at the end. This time we wanted to make a music video for a shorter song, and we think this is a very good piece to start the journey what Shape Without Form’s six other songs will offer you. The music video is about monsters. The ones we create and the ones we are living with on the same planet through the times; whether they are just creations of our imagination or real. The list is not complete of course… History has thousands of monsters, which fact should be food for thought. We used old horror movies and documentary films for the making of this video.” The quartet is rounded out by drummer László Papp, bassist and FX guru János Stefán and Cello and keyboard player János Pusker.

From the very first bar of achingly beautiful piano work, it’s obvious that “Shape Without Form” has a lot of promise. Gradually building like you might expect from a classically trained concert pianist, that introduction makes way for some bright guitar work with Progressive leaning chord moments. A synth underpinning is deliberately kept low key while the hammering kit work could belong to a heavier band. As instrumental music must, it makes up for the absence of vocals by injecting healthy doses of nuance and intricacy to keep your interest and the opening cut “Frankenstein’s” could happily play out for another couple of minutes, such is its mesmerising nature. “Eclipse” maybe nearly twice as long but it has no less quality. Instead the bright soundtrack offers a funky bass groove with some FX that sound like distorted vinyl scratches with some Jazz like freedom. If you’re a fan of bands like Toska then this one is one that you should take note of as while it doesn’t have some of the tones that Rabea Massaad offers, it has all of the broad scope and appeal. Slowing down the pace and energy with “Y13“, which offers a meloncholic sadness before speech samples add perhaps a greater sense of direction and purpose, Ghost Toast add in more in the FX and increase their use of the guitar patterns. The thoughtful way the music has been put together means the absence of vocals gives more scope for the music to breathe and the closing piano part on this one is again a piece of brilliance. Retaining the speech samples “Hunt of Life” has a space age Reggae vibe that is about as unexpected as opening your freezer and finding a pair of shoes inside. What’s more intriguing is the delicate female vocals that give the track an Iranian nights feel before a left turn into break beats and a guitar solo that appears from nowhere…

…going back to the meloncholic sadness for the opening of “Follow” which sounds like it belongs in the Albert Hall before the guitars bulk out the sound and add weight and gravity. Its subtleties aren’t lost as it takes a gradual progression in waves before an interesting Black Sabbath esq riff moment appears but with a Ghost Toast spin on it, which is an absolute joy. “Before Anything Happens” has some Asian inspired moments in a sci-fi introduction that blends some beautiful piano work with an some eclectic electronic sounds in the background before the Progressive riffs once again take hold. It’s a vibrant technicolor soundscape that has so much reward in repeated listens it beggars belief and by the time the James Bond like orchestral elements come in, you’re just awestruck. The sample led “W.A.N.T.” gives rise to the album title within that fold as speech snippets echo out before another gradually building set of cleverly constructed riffs gently flow like a river into the sea with some bright tempo shifts and some light and shade transitions. If you’re traditionally not a fan of instrumental albums then this is one that could win you over to the genre because it’s one of the best we’ve heard in a long stretch [8/10]

Track listing
1. Frankenstein’s
2. Eclipse
3. Y13
4. Hunt of Life
5. Follow
6. Before Anything Happens
7. W.A.N.T.

Shape Without Form” by Ghost Toast will be released on 3rd March 2020 via Inverse Records.

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