Agitated Atmosphere: Haunted House – Blue Ghost Blues

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Haunted House.

At this moment in history, no guitarist with the skills Loren Connors goes unnoticed quite like the 6-string genius himself. Those who have laid ears upon Connors’ extensive canon are instantly drawn to his style; uniquely drawn from disparate approaches. Connors can be quiet and gentle, barely coaxing a sound just as he can be blistering and rambunctious, treating his guitar as a Bulldog Gatling, cranking it with furry until every last round has been charged.

The dichotomy of Connors is matched in his long-time partner, Suzanne Langille. Her voice is the boom in the midst of hell’s war on heaven; angelic and demonic depending on the situation. When Connors and Langille combine their talents with Andrew Burnes and Neel Murgai, the resulting menace–Blue Ghost Blues–sets fire to the world as the foursome loudly cackle through the flames.

Collectively known as Haunted House, the group lead by Connors and Langille have awoken from a decade-long slumber at the behest of Northern Spy. The resulting LP is a roaring beast, showcasing the steely edge Connors and Langille are able to coax when attitude and tone coming calling. Unlike the string of recent Connors solo works or Langille’s recent collaboration with Neel Murgai (which featured a Haunted House tease), Blue Ghost Blues is rough and tumble. It is a palm to the face; red forces at the pearly gates; the world being torn asunder.

Murgai’s heavy hand percussion (courtesy of the daf) is a marching beat through much of Blue Ghost Blues, mimicking the rumbling gut of Connors and Burnes’ guitar staccato. Langille’s wavering vocals ratchet up the tension, unleashed from the first bowed note of opener “Millie’s Not Afraid.” The lilting lines of “Grip My Hand” prove to be the album’s only solace, lending a bit of light to an otherwise dark and heavy album.

If there was ever proof needed as to why Haunted House would accept such a loaded moniker, Blue Ghost Blues stands as the smoking gun. Langille’s emotional wails, coupled by the thundered music of Connors, Burnes, and Murgai, will hang on you like a specter, passing through you with the feeling of Antarctica and leaving you with the relentless sweat of Hades.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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