Thomas P. Heckmann's career smacks of diversity, ingenuity, and a stubborn refusal to adhere to genre. First gaining notoriety in the early 90s as a vital cog in the German techno machine, he founded the Trope Recordings label and set about firming up a beachead in the already splintering electronica scenes of the time. Juggling a well-respected DJ/producer career with his own admirable musical talents made labels such as Force Inc., Mille Plateaux and Pete Namlook's Fax +49-69/450464 sit up and take notice. Now, with Ghosts, his third release on Carpe Sonum, Heckmann's blended his various influences into a veritable tour de force of textural girth and grit.
Ghosts is as unlikely a 'follow-up' to his previous Lost Tales volumes as you're likely to find. Trading in what is euphemistically termed dark ambient on this go-round, Heckmann seems to have inadvertently or intentionally forged a modern post-industrial statement of extraordinarily powerful intent. Largely eschewing the easily recognizable horizontal hold of electronica's well-trodden beat structures, Heckmann augments his mildly abrasive tones and brittle atmospheres with pulses carved from an aural wood of drift rather than driftwood. The eleven pieces on Ghosts cackle and glee with an almost demonic abandon, percussive accents bouncing throughout the stereofield in an often wild display of vivid color schemes. Nowhere is this more evident than across the eight minute panoptic nerves of "Absolution", where Heckmann's many years of adept rhythm programming blossom forth in an explosive rush of digital swing.
But what gives Ghosts its most unique flavor is the schizophrenic paradox of styles that lies at its core. "Vault" and the title track work that post-industrial mojo to satisfying, if acrid, ends, conjuring up such contemporary voices as Andy Stott and some of the motley Mordant Music crew. Heckmann's hauntological soundworld here is so complex that Ghosts is one of those rare records that bares repeated visits, deeper listening, undivided attention; after the headcrack sensations felt during the first spin, successive replays are necessary to absorb everything Heckmann's compositions painstakingly reveal. It's that kind of freaky mindtrip.