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Chest Rockwell: Ghost Of A Man Still Alive

Who is Chest Rockwell? Now that’s a question. The easy answer is that Chest Rockwell is Josh Hines, a one man composing, performing, producing machine who catapults musical thoughts out at an impressive rate and with a real sense of accuracy. But, who is Chest Rockwell? According to this latest release it would appear we are dealing with a Ghost Of A Man Still Alive… Is life happening around him, unaware of the presence this very project revolves around? Or is that simply too simple?

One thing’s for sure, our protagonist has a split personality. Actually he has three, maybe four facades that take alternate turns at ruling the beast and dominating. First up is the big riffed snarl of a character who bites, barks and, if you are unlucky enough to be caught in its jaws, rips your flesh to shreds aided by crazed vocals that veer in and out of control. Moments like “Proteus” are where this face takes the reins - contorted, twisted and unpredictable. And yet serenity can move into view. Synth swathes that seemingly place our tale in some outer sci-fi setting that shimmers and bends, never quite comforting but still able to soothe away the bloodied freneticism of before. “Present”, “Future”, “Past” and “Eternal Return” may be short - all one minute long to be exact - but they ‘ground’ the experience and offer not just respite but a window into another world that still feels connected to the maelstrom.

“El Anacronópete” howls - needing, wanting, craving for release. Here, previous elements form into yet anther new personality as percussion stirs and stokes the soul while guitars gyrate and keep things honest and yet still abrasive. This is ground being covered and then some but vocal purists may be left by the wayside, seeking a more cleverly constructed cavort over this brutally honest approach. Strings sweep and swerve but melancholy is never far away and even as this apparition of an album feels like it is beginning to make sense so the clicking hi-hat and 80s austere careens headlong into Muse like epics and melodies that richly reward. You could almost say that “Farewell Voyager” has a hook as its keyboard line soars the spirit against an infinitely controlled thrum of bass and guitar - it’s almost Robert Miles’ “Children” meets Alan Parson’s Project with Matthew Bellamy (Muse) at the controls.

Who is Chest Rockwell? We may never know the answer to that question but in a world where the easy option is the most often trodden path, he evokes emotional challenges. Ghost Of A Man Still Alive does all of those things through the very contradictions at the centre of its being. In the cold light of day, it’s not going to be for everyone and, being honest, an outside hand on the production may well heighten the impact and broaden the appeal but this is bold, daring and rewarding and on that basis we should save our questions for another day.

Track Listing
1. As You Like
2. Present
3. Metamorph
4. Proteus
5. Future
6. Archeologist
7. Paradox
8. Watch How I Fall Over
9. Past
10. El Anacronópete
11. Farewell, Voyager
12. Eternal Return
13. Cradle

Added: May 25th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Ghost Of A Man Still Alive @ bandcamp
Hits: 1082
Language: english

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