Ghost Frog is one of those bands with the ability to craft their own world and they openly invite us to bask in its glory. Rock has had many shifts and phases through the years, but these humanoids hailing from Portland, Oregon have defined their own unique twist on the genre and nailed it with fine precision. Their latest release Astral Arcade is psychedelic noise rock — except if it was flung to space in a bizarro, acid-laced, Doctor Who, time warping fashion. Heavy rock, stoner, noise and space rock all seamlessly blend in this 10-track collection, with several nods to sci-fi and pop fiction. A genre they’ve defined as Paranormal Stoner Punk. Their use of guitars and vocals defies convention, and thus provides a refreshing twist for anyone who’s heard all of the guitar music tricks of the past few decades (If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re one in those camps). This dedication to the aesthetic makes Astral Arcade a wonderful experience. If you’re vaguely intrigued by how an interdimensional alien stoner might sound like if it got a hold of guitars, then perhaps this is your cup of acid.
The band infuses their songs with screeching shoegaze, otherworldly howls and soaring melodies that could easily reach escape velocity while shifting through astral projections like it was a truck stop. The use of video game, sci-fi and literary fiction in their lyrics adds an even better twist to the special sauce.
“City Snatchers” sounds exactly like Black Sabbath in a techno-dystopian universe, complete with a menacing neon vibe and a huge dose of doom. “Agent Provocateur” is what cyberpunk would sound like if it were a musical genre instead of a literary one, with enough digital fingerprints on the guitar riffs that could short-circuit the cybernetics on a corpo agent.
The enveloping vocal reverb on “Straight Jacket” along with its atonal twilight-zone riffs could easily be what’s inside the mind of a neurosis patient. “Computer Lab” is the longest and slowest-burning track in here, running at almost 6 minutes in a languid, dreamy state of suspended shoegaze consciousness.
“Space Junkie” closes the album in what looks to be the thesis of the whole collection. This resembles somewhat of an odyssey for the band. A journey of heavy rock, glitchy space hop and mind-bending shoegaze strung together with transitions as smooth as butter.
Astral Arcade shows how dedicated effort poured into a great concept makes for a fantastic experience. You can’t get this from anywhere else. Ghost Frog is a band that’s completely their own and is one that you should definitely check out.