Swedish producer GHØS†BØY released his Disgusting EP on October 31st. Given its cover art (with its grungy font and mysterious, negative image), you could expect it to be the perfect soundtrack for Halloween.
So naturally, my review of it has come out three weeks late.
I can kind of be forgiven though, because, on Disgusting, GHØS†BØY subverts expectations. This isn’t the sonic assault I would’ve expected from someone who’s previous credits include something called the DEAD KATIE EP.
GHØS†BØY is a fascinating artist. He’s currently signed to Venus Aeon, a label specialising in dark, experimental underground music. Related sub-genres include witch house, goth rock, neo-folk, ambient, shoegaze and (enticingly) Daemonic Body Music. Naturally, Venus Aeon is something which I want to cover in greater detail at a later date.
On October 4th, GHØS†BØY released SUCCUBI – a best-of spanning the years 2014 to 2019. It showcases his evolution from the vaporwave of his SPORTS EP, past the witch house stylings of CR▲SS and DEAD KATIE and towards what Disgusting delivers.
What Disgusting delivers is four horror-inspired tracks about ‘Surviving trauma and the mental illnesses that come with it.’ From that description, you’d expect something relentlessly intense, raw and haunting.
Instead, Disgusting keeps you off balance. Which in the context of trauma and mental illness actually makes a lot of sense. There are shifts in tone and approach, and it’s impressive how well this comes across on such a short record.
On Bandcamp, one of the tags attached to Disgusting is “Witch Pop.” Opening track “Destroyer” leans into this. The obscure vocals, synth melody and ghostly vibe speak to the “Witch” part, but there are dashes of EDM and trap which pull it closer to the mainstream.
Interestingly, the video for “Destroyer” amps up the “Witch.” Occult symbols, GHØS†BØY bleeding and the distorted visuals are all valid examples of the aesthetic. The mysterious figure haunting him puts you in mind of movies like Ringu. Which provides a nice line of continuity, as DEAD KATIE was a concept EP based on the American remake of that film.
But I digress. Even without the video, “Destroyer” lays a decent foundation for what is to come. “Killing A Rabbit” is where the major twist happens. A title like that promises something hardcore, but “Killing A Rabbit” carries a beautiful guitar melody, a softer trap beat, and vocals which are more mournful than anything else. That sense of ups and downs, shifts in mood and perception…it all speaks so well to what GHØS†BØY is going for.
With that in mind, “Coffin In The Sky” tilts back towards witch house. “Coffin In The Sky” is a little more doom-laden. I’ve seen the term “Post witch house” doing the rounds, and this track may be the purest example of it I’ve encountered.
The most notable track on Disgusting is “Always On My Mind.” Oh yes, we have a dark electronic Elvis cover. For the most part at least, as there’s been some re-organisation of the lyrics. And of course, the tone, instrumentation and production are light-years away from Presley’s standard.
In my notes, I used the term “Cyber-country.” This relates to the guitar line. There’s also a retrowave dimension to “Always On My Mind,” but what’s most striking about this song is how chilling it is.
It’s slow and GHØS†BØY’s vocals are weary. The production capitalises on the song’s sinister potential. There’s a skittering beat and a buzz in the mix which put me in mind of insects swarming. It lives up to the cover art, with someone curled up in a dingy room, consumed by emotion. They’re not drowning in a literal sense, but they’re certainly going under.
Of my most recent discoveries, GHØS†BØY is certainly one of the most impressive and exciting. Personally, I’m more inclined to return to SUCCUBI when I just want something to listen to. But Disgusting is so fresh, so unique and so worthy of your time. It represents a new dawn for one of the most talented producers doing the rounds.
You can find GHØS†BØY here: