The rough-hewn textures and subtle melodies of Starving Ghosts resonate from a deep emotional core.
My first encounter with New Brunswicker JE Sheehy was through Beard Springsteen, his pub-touring band with Josh Steeves. Steeped in a DIY punk ethos and embracing melody with a jubilant (if at times jaded) outlook, Beard Springsteen writes rock anthems for the everyperson.
My second encounter with Sheehy arrives through an entirely different musical vehicle. Under the name Starving Ghosts, Sheehy has released a series of instrumental sound collages in the last twelve months. Over four releases, Starving Ghosts translates Sheehy’s experiences playing bars and plying his trade as Beard Springsteen into gritty, often gorgeous washes of calculated noise. Une année à Moncton collects Starving Ghosts’ digital-only output onto a single compilation, making them available in physical form for the first time. Collected under one release, Sheehy’s home-recorded experiments expand beyond the confines of the bedroom studio. Une année à Moncton is more than a record of a year of recording; it’s a document of thoughts, remembrance and impressions.
“Past Apartments” is memory set to music, disjointed and fractured, but imbued with emotion and sentiment. The elongated improvisation “This attic smells terrible, you ought to open a window instead of playing trumpet and throwing a party” is autumnal in tone, tense, and fraught with an impending winter chill. Even when passages are relatively short in comparison (like the wickedly titled “Annual ‘Can’t Sleep, Clown’s Gonna Eat Me’ Month”) Starving Ghosts’ looping musical motifs resonate from a profoundly deep emotional core.
It’s as if the very act of becoming Starving Ghosts simultaneously feeds Sheehy’s anxieties and fears while temporarily quelling them, giving him the chance to view his external experiences and inner states from a fresh perspective. By its very non-verbal nature, instrumental music distances and separates itself from its source material, but even at the height of drone and noise, Starving Ghosts plugs into a long-distance temporal line, connecting past, present, and future. It took a year for Sheehy to compile Une année à Moncton, but I found myself absorbed by its rough-hewn textures, subtle melodies, and intensity in no time at all.