“A Formal Death” was a cut from Yama’s “Wardubs” Season 1 playlist. It was my favourite track from that event and one of my favourites of the year. Another favourite from 2020 was their “Take Everything Away” (featured on the Human Error// collective’s HE//001: Natural States compilation). Now KIBA x Ghost Girl have returned with new single “CRT”.
Naturally, my expectations were high. Not only because of the quality of their previous music but also because, when Ghost Girl is involved, you’re always set for something special. Because she’s also known for her work as a freelance 3D artist. Besides her promotional work and merchandise, her VJ animations have graced many of the online festivals which helped make 2020 bearable.
“CRT” isn’t just a track with a video. It’s an audiovisual experience. Yes, “CRT” is still fantastic without the accompanying visuals, but you owe it to yourself to take them together.
Ghost Girl’s work has a very unique aesthetic. She’s used the terms “pastel goth” and “vapor future” in the past. Perfect descriptions for a wholly unique style that splices vibrant, futuristic models and textures with some curiously retro aesthetics.
This style perfectly matches the themes of “CRT” itself. Cathode-ray tubes are the tech used for the ye olde monitors that provide a backdrop (and in many cases a cage) for the figure that dominates the video.
Monitors that flash messages like “You’re worthless” and “You’re a waste of time” on them. “CRT” is about self-doubt, self-loathing and broken relationships. The fallout from an ended affairs, and how it impacts everyone around you. As demonstrated by lines like “cutting cables with all my friends, now I can’t even remember them”.
“I remember 2003, I stared for hours into my CRT, my eyes would start to bleed”. This song is about looking back, and painful reflection. Trapped in a moment, but there is some scope for optimism. Images of butterflies and clocks racing forward, rather than backward, accompanied by swells in the music, contrasting with some ominous tones. Around the 4 minute mark, there’s a seamless shift. Things speed up a little. Our character betrays little smiles and their body language opens up, leading to VHS static that leaves us to ponder their fate.
Musically, “CRT” is characterised by crystalline runs in the treble, and sustained atmospherics. And goddamn those vocals. Breathy, alluring, yet also vulnerable and marked by experience. Put simply: they’re perfect. Vocally we’re being led through a strange, disturbing yet beautiful landscape.
I have to admit something here. I’m not a particularly emotional person, but I well up when “CRT” plays. It’s a mesmerising song. It lays emotions bare. And amazingly, the extravagance and uncanniness of the visuals only amplify this.
It’s important to note that “CRT” is a cover. The original comes from South Korean artist Alicks’ 1997 LP. 1997 is from 2018, a fact I love because passing years are so interwoven with everything going on here. While I like the original, with its lilting guitar and lo-fi approach, KIBA x Ghost Girl’s version elevates it to astonishing heights.
“CRT” is a masterpiece. KIBA x Ghost Girl keep proving themselves to be serious forces to be reckoned with. Few artists are doing as much to advance electronic music and I hope we’ll see/hear a lot more from them.
You can find KIBA and Ghost Girl here: