The Village – or Phil Matthews as they probably call him down the pub – made quite an impression with his previous album, Escape From The Witchwood, a mysterious set of songs drawing (loosely at times) on myth and folklore. Ghosts In The Static brings us closer to the real world although not too close – ‘Dance Of The Faerie Queen’ and ‘The Wizard’ suggest that Phil is still out there somewhere.
Take the opening track, ‘Cottingley’, which explores Phil’s fascination with the famous photographs of “fairies” taken by two young girls in 1917. What is really remarkable is that it wasn’t until the 1980s that Elsie Wright admitted that the pictures were fakes but the story still holds a grip. The track is suitably danceable with acoustic guitar, hand percussion and flute but at the end are changes which sound musically “wrong” but leave the listener with a sense of disquiet.
Ghosts In The Static is lighter than its predecessor which was firmly into folk-rock country and the short instrumental, ‘Dance Of The Faerie Queen’, picks up on the sound of ‘Cottingley’ almost as a coda. ‘Friction In Fiction’ is a jokey track pointing out that a novel requires an antagonist as well as a protagonist and he almost name checks a Jasper fforde character – are you sure you didn’t mean Thursday, Phil? The title track is a recollection of childhood television as Phil asks what happened to all the characters we watched day in and day out. You have to be of a certain age to recognise all the names he mentions. ‘Green Glove Cigarettes’ is another juvenile memory and I’m still trying to figure it out although a friend did bring back some weird smokes from Indonesia once…
‘Isolation Blues’ gets a bit heavier with chugging bass and electric guitar and no explanation is needed while ‘Lone Horseman Came Calling’ picks up on the mood with added creepiness, particularly when Phil lets on that there are actually four of them. ‘The Wizard’ is a cheeky nod to Marc Bolan although he avoids mentioning white swans – but only just. I love it. ‘Tomorrow Loves You More Than Yesterday’ is back in hippiedom complete with rainbows and mirrors but The Village gets serious with ‘What Can I Say’ to close the set – a not-at-all veiled attack on the orange one.
I really enjoyed listening to Ghosts In The Static which available in digital form from Bandcamp. Do yourselves a favour, pop along and take a listen or buy the CD from The Village website.
Artist’s website: https://www.thevillage.me.uk/
A live set from The Village: