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Ghosts is the sound of an ever-evolving artist and, just as the album’s title suggests she passes repeatedly and gracefully between musical worlds: as composer, singer, songwriter, and producer. This album builds on Rani’s earlier successes Esja and Home with an expanded yet still minimal setup of piano, keyboards, synths (most importantly her Prophet) and features more of her mysterious, bewitching voice. Its spirit is warm, beckoning one into an ambitious double album that unfolds at an exquisite pace, informed by her revelatory, exploratory live performances.
Ghosts is also an album of collaborations as Rani is joined by Patrick Watson, who breathes unearthly life into the ethereal ‘Dancing with Ghosts’. ‘Whispering House’is written and recorded with her friend, Ólafur Arnalds and casts a peaceful, ineluctable spell; and Portico Quartet’s Duncan Bellamy contributes vital loops to ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ and ‘Thin Line’.
Rani’s lyrics are partially inspired by a two-month residency in a small studio in Switzerland’s mountains, where Rani was working on the soundtrack On Giacometti for a documentary about the renowned Swiss artist. “Where I stayed was once an old sanatorium in an area which used to be very popular, but now there are huge abandoned hotels where the locals say ghosts live. I mean, it's kind of a local belief system – these ghosts even have names! – but once you're deep into nature or some abandoned place, your imagination starts working on a different level.”
“The edge of life and death,” Rani summarises, “and what actually happens in between: this was what really interested me. Even singing the word ‘death’ was quite a shock. It’s such a weird word to say out loud, and people are afraid of it, which I found extremely interesting. Most of the songs probably still talk about love and things like that, but Ghosts is more me thinking about having to face some kind of end.”
If Rani’s debut Esja was about exploiting her principal instrument, and Home saw her take steps towards a fuller expression of her art, Ghosts is where she unites her varied interests on what might even be considered her first ‘real’ album. Drawing upon a fondness for diverse artists like Enya, The Smile, James Blake and Pink Floyd – not to mention her admiration for her guests – and evoking Stina Nordenstam’s delicacy, Keith Jarrett’s flair, Kate Bush’s artistry and Pink Floyd’s probing inclinations, it combines a lifetime’s musical experience in one miraculous, cosmic world. Say hello, then, to something quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard. It’s the sound of HANIA RANI.
For fans of Nils Frahm, Melanie de Basio, Björk, Kate Bush, Ólafur Arnalds and Portico Quartet
Barry says: Hania Rani's music has up until this point been very much in the ambient / modern classical vein, with beautiful instrumental textures and Rani's voice perfectly merging together into a blissful bath. It's on 'Ghosts' however that we really hear how dynamic and inventive her sound is, with synthesised textures and beautifully produced turns.
A1. Oltre Terra
A3. Don’t Break My Heart Feat. Duncan Bellamy
B1. Dancing With Ghosts Feat. Patrick Watson
B2. A Day In Never
B3. Whispering House Feat. Olafur Arnalds
C1. The Boat
C3. Thin Line Feat. Duncan Bellamy