Just like a dream sequence time lapsing from one moment to the next, the rich tapestry of sounds emitted by Vaporous Light has never been more in tune with their subconscious – on brand new album Ghosts Of Almeria, dreams and a ghostly Spanish setting have played a surprising influence on the Manchester trio.
“When you dream you experience all these different kinds of emotions whether that’s happiness, fear, love or anxiety and in many ways Ghosts Of Almeria embodies all those things.” explains mysteriously named producer and one-third of Vaporous Light, Raymond Ray.
In their waking life, Vaporous Light’s enigmatic presence on Manchester’s wildly shapeshifting music scene has been marked by an astute ability to create music as mesmerising as it is mystifying. Since feeling their way over a mutual love of cinematic soundscapes and obscure soundtracks whilst first working on a handful of musical sketches at Ray's home studio in the city suburbs, the trio have shied away from the spotlight, eschewing plans to ever play live in favour of dedicating their time to a methodical composition process that allows listeners to be drawn in, then drop out of daily rigmarole.
Marking a path previously untrodden and their furthest flung to date, Ghosts Of Almeria takes its title from the eerie landscape in Spain’s Andalucia region of the same name – its isolation makes it a favourite spot for filmmakers of classic cowboy tales and is where one third of Vaporous Light began writing the songs on his guitar after awaking and experiencing a night terror. “That place definitely got under my skin,” he recalls. “It’s frightening how the environment around you can creep into your unconscious.”
Veering from industrial rhythms to modern country and classic pop motifs as colourful as the artwork adorning its sleeve, Ghosts Of Almeria was recorded between Vaporous Light’s various homes in Manchester’s suburbia, fuelled by late nights, countless cups of coffee and knuckling down to hone their sound. As melodic engineers, they cleverly mask subtle intricacies, luring the listener into a deeper state of consciousness whilst flickering between darkness and light. From the stunningly ethereal sound of guest vocalist Tekla Szersynska who adds sparkle and grace to lead track ‘When You Open Your Eyes’ to aptly titled ‘Waiting For The Sunrise’ which surfaces like a morning overture of Berlin-era David Bowie covering ‘Good Vibrations’, the album is as melodic as it is illuminating.
Yet lurking below its beguiling surface, Ghosts Of Almeria’s heart beats with meticulous precision. Inspired by the score accompanying Scorsese’s Shutter Island, the acerbic wit and Hammond organ of ‘I’m Your Patient’ give drive to Vaporous Light’s darker side. Elsewhere inspiration is drawn from Galaxie 500’s tales of love and loss, the synth sounds of Johnny Jewel, and the drones forming the record’s backbone pay homage to Brian Eno (‘My Heart Aint Beating As Fast As It Used To’ includes the melody of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon In D’ on a music box which featured on Eno’s Discreet Music). “We’re interested in the mechanics of how things sound,” explains Ray, “it’s like therapy, making each part sound just as right on its own, as when it’s all put together.”
Vaporous Light do things their own way and in their own time. Whether Ghost Of Almeria’s follow up arrives next week, next year, or in five years; their attitude will remain the same. The music will be unveiled when the time is right and not a moment before. And when it is, Manchester will rise and shine once again.