Ghost (2021)

Modern Silent Cinema - Ghost
release date November 13, 2021

1. Etude 1 02:15
2. Sustainers 03:23
3. Etude 2 00:57
4. List 04:04
5. Etude 3 00:54
6. Etude 4 02:14
7. Ghost 03:42
8. Etude 5 00:54
9. Far 03:30
10. Etude 6 01:54

Written and performed by Cullen Gallagher.
Mastered by Caleb Mulkerin at Tank 28.
Cover image: "Solitude" by GR167 is marked under CC PDM 1.0.

Now streaming:

Limited edition CD available (first pressing 50 copies)

About the album:
Ghost is a ten-song cycle that blends melancholic shoegaze influences (Galaxie 500, Damon and Naomi, Slowdive, and Red House Painters) with impressionist soundscapes (Erik Satie, Maurice Ravel). Six songs are solo piano, and four are vocal/synth/acoustic guitar.

Ghost is a very personal and important album for me, and it was both one of the most natural albums I've made and one of the most difficult. It was also the album that officially resurrected the project. The previous release, Songs for David, was less of an EP than it was a way to collect two songs I had written for my friend Lou Boxer and his organization NoirCon. Ghost was a return to the album as an artistic expression.

The album began during the COVID lockdown as a way to collaborate with my friend Jake Newcomb. I was living in Brooklyn, he was living in Portland, OR. Around a decade earlier we did a shoegaze EP as Dreambox, and we had often talked about collaborating again. I demoed four songs on acoustic guitar with scratch vocals hoping it would be the start of the next Dreambox album. I don't quite remember why, but for some reason we weren't able to make that happen (someday, though!). Instead, I decided to finish the songs myself. 

I had sang in hardcore bands before, because I figured, I'm screaming, it's ok that I don't know how to sing. Ghost pushed me to confront my voice and figure out how "I" can sing. Not how anybody else wants me to sound. But how I want to sound. I won't lie, it was frustrating, but it was a great process, and in the end I accomplished something I didn't think I was capable of. 

I was also nervous about singing in Modern Silent Cinema, because "Silent" is part of the band name. But MSC has never been a project that conformed to standards and expectations, so I figured it would be good to challenge the listener's (and my own) expectations of the project. Plus, as film historians often point out, the silent movies were never truly "silent." And, eventually, they learned to talk. So, consider this my "talkie" album.

Ghost was another big step for me for another reason: the piano. I had stopped taking piano lessons at 10 or 11. I loved the instrument but never felt comfortable playing what was on the page. I assumed that since I couldn't play that, then I just couldn't play the instrument. With Ghost, I sat down at my old family piano in Maine and confronted the keys, and started to write based around what I could play technically. I used my technical limitations not to restrict what I could play, but as inspirations for creativity. I love the work of Erik Satie, György Ligeti, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel, and the piano pieces on Ghost were the beginnings of my re-connection with the keyboard. Unlike the vocal tracks, the piano pieces flowed natural and were some of the most pleasant composing and recording experience in my life.