"Automatically, the word "spectre" draws your attention. Your mind starts racing, wondering if this is a ghostly soundtrack -- music for an ancient horror film full of gore, greed, and redemption. Teenagers half-clothed, run from a masked maniac wielding a mighty axe or a rusty chainsaw. The small town's police force, many slain due to their own ignorance and stupidity, try feebly to turn their luck around to track down and kill this homicidal menace. However, these images of film are usually accompanied by a frenzy of ghoulish organs or loud guitars. You have a choice: the old parlour music of the early 20th century or the heavy metal thunder from the 70s and 80s. Beehives or feathered hair; grainy or glossy film.
Pete Nolan chooses to ignore all these timely horror elements when performing under the guise of Spectre Folk. Nolan, famous for being in a plethora of weird folk and noise bands (Magik Markers, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Virgin Eye Blood Brothers), has taken his cumulative musical knowledge and created an album both haunting and frightening, but not in the traditional sense of emotions. While the melodies are ghostly throughout Requiem for Ming Aralia, this particular spectre spooks with a sturdy backbone. The album's ominous opener, "Tendrils Floating Fastly," will waste no time in transporting you into an era that HBO's Carnivale romanticized and demonized to perfection. Perhaps Nolan watched much of the ill-fated show's run because music such as this is rarely achieved in modern times, no matter how weird and wild your harmonic reach may be. The sparse production, the unearthly organs, and the maddening guitar combine to create an eerie atmosphere that few filmmakers are able to recreate with a camera and production team. In a 10 minute song, Pete Nolan has created a landscape forever embedded into your brain. "The Pointed Horn," takes a decidedly different approach to visualization through music. While it's a much more conventional song with its hushed percussion and almost poppy acoustics, it maintains much of the spectral element present throughout Requiem for Ming Aralia. The otherworldly production keeps "The Pointed Horn," from becoming a warm and sincere lullaby. This alien sound rears its ugliest head during "Indianana." Strange and unusual sounds swirl around in a controlled tornado before unleashing a fury of electronics and distortion, then choosing to settle into the calm after the storm. The album's finale, "Bindi Clip," mimics the all out assault of "Indianana," blending into a frenzied composition fit to soundtrack the cosmos.
Somehow, Pete Nolan has taken melodies fit to accompany a late night horrorshow and transformed them into music that is both beautiful and jarring. And though Nolan's ultimate goal was most likely not centered on a fright night, it's these ancient-sounding tunes' ability to evoke hysteria that truly makes Requiem for Ming Aralia an enjoyable listen over and over. If you haven't guessed as much, Spectre Folk is more than just the name this particular album was composed under, it's the mindset for the contents. These songs are ghostly, these songs are folky, but their marriage is harmonious rather than a bloody mess."