“I think that being experimental just for the sake of being experimental leads to weak results,” says Christopher Bono, New York-based founder of electronic post-classical drone project Ghost Against Ghost. Their first full-length release, Still Love, is part of a powerful ambient trilogy. In 2014, part one of the musical trilogy, EP Oia, was abruptly interrupted by a personal traumatic event, which steered a heavily inspired and deeply emotional Bono to create Still Love as a cleansing experience.
“I can’t talk too much about what inspired me to make this album. Still Love has to do with a very personal family situation and it narrates my response to that experience. This record is about my parents and there are lyrics written from my mother’s perspective,” says Bono.
A promising athlete up to age 21, Bono’s sport ambitions took a dramatic turn towards music when his baseball career fell short due to injury.
“When those aspirations and dreams started to fall apart, I began to play guitar again, and in a very depressed, dark and narrow view of reality I transplanted all of my athletic aspirations onto music,” he explains.
Bono took a hiatus from Ghost Against Ghost to study classical music and nurture his skills, in order to effectively channel his urge to create epic conceptual music.
“At first, my number one influence was Pink Floyd, then Stravinsky, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and late Romantic, early 20th century composers. I was also deeply influenced by experimental electronic music combined with 70s prog music,” says Bono.
Three years on, the talent was honed and the progressive aspirations for Ghost Against Ghost were regained.
“The name is derived from the Buddhist concept of emptiness. It has nothing to do with spooky ghosts. There are phantom-like aspects of thought in consciousness or in humanity. Religions and wars, and other conceptual ideologies are like phantoms fighting against phantoms.”
Whilst Bono remains at the centre of the impressive creative process, the album features Thomas Pridgen from The Mars Volta on drums.
“Thomas is extraordinarily strong, but having grown up in the church, he has amazing agility,” says Bono. “I treated this record like I would treat an orchestral record. Picking up parts to arrange was like picking out colours. The guitar is a very textural instrument to me, so I like to use it to garner effects or delineate lines. The piano was used as a means of punctuating those lines. The synths were definitely the main focus on this album and then there is also electric bass and a lot of electric guitar.”
Ghost Against Ghost’s Checkpoint Charlie from 2015 was accompanied by a 14-minute conceptual music video directed by Craig Murray, depicting tormented human figures, seemingly struggling against each other’s bodies under a white veil and rising from a viscous red and gold liquid, all the while reaching towards the edge of a dark cliff. These images form a visual interpretation of the oppressive and conversely hopeful nature of the music.
“People have suggested to me that I get into film scoring. As a composer, I feel like the relationship to the music would be very different for me if I was following someone else’s mental narrative.”
Ghost Against Ghost is a magnetic concept act driven by impeccable musical talent and intrinsically emotional undertones. Bono’s work will no doubt leave a lasting impression in obscure prog.
Line Up: Christopher Bono (lyrics, composing and producing), Thomas Pridgen (drums)
Sounds Like: Powerful dystopian post-classical drone, reminiscent of a Darren Aronofsky soundtrack
Current Release: Still Love is out now on Our Silent Canvas