Review: Marena Whitcher’s Shady Midnight Orchestra – Ghostology

Lost between the realms of opera, jazz, and avant-garde music, Marena Whitcher’s Shady Midnight Orchestra‘s what seems to be debut album Ghostology is a real gem of experimentation in popular music, although what’s left of pop music is so altered in the process that it can barely be called that. However, the avant-pop label seems quite fitting, even more so when followed by the ghost jazz speciality. What is ghost jazz? I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to it.

With an orchestra comprising of many instruments, from glass harp to bass clarinet, and from glockenspiel to “toys”, the textures on the album are varied and, most of the time, warm, under the soft (well, most of the time) voice of Marena, singing tales of different ghosts; some joyful, some mournful, some are peaceful and some are tricksters. Her voice adapts to every situation, supporting the story she’s telling. The compositions on Ghostology are well thought out, unique and at times take unexpected turns!

Every instrument played here is so in a professional manner, and shines when the time comes, but all over the album the one that shines the most is the voice. Great melodies one after the other, and sudden explosions or more off-road moments, it really is the star of the show, but what did we expect when the singer’s name appropriates her own orchestra as in the name of the act. It is a truly unique experiment with great moments, a nice flow and an overarching theme uniting everything. You should be aware that you’ll be hearing out-of-the-ordinary stuff, but with that in mind, you should be able to really appreciate Ghostology, because it is really, freaking good!