Although Cevin Key has been involved in many different projects since the breakup of the beloved Skinny Puppy, none of them have ever really gelled that well. While there were moments in several of the Download releases ("Sidewinder" anyone?) and his last solo project Music For Cats, much of the time it has sounded like he was trying to gain his musical footing again after the breakup of such an influencial and popular group.
On The Ghost Of Each Room, it seems that Key has finally found (more or less) his stride as a solo artist. Even though he collaborates with tons of different people over the course of 10 tracks, he provides the backbone to almost every track, by providing everything from rhythm programming to straight drums, bass guitar, and other effects and electronics. While the release pulls together tons of different influences (including middle-eastern sounds and even some dub), it's also easily his most cohesive effort, falling in under an umbrella of darker edged electronic music.
You get an idea of the mixture of things that Key is up to on the very first track "Bob's Shadow." While a theremin hums away a ghostly refrain, Key lays down some almost dancey beats that show just how far along his programming has come while Justin Bennett fills everything out with a bit of thick guitars. On the very next track, Key again rolls with some sliding, layered beats, but this time K. Tokoi adds some excellent saxophone riffs and odd vocals.
Tracks like "Horopter" and "Sklang" cut up the beats even more (the former adding some dubby sounds behind everything), while Key teams up with Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots on several more tracks. Even though it will probably be a favorite of Skinny Puppy fans (mainly because of the Ogre vocal contribution and overall feel of the track), the only track that really stands out on the disc as not really fitting in with the others is the loud "Frozen Sky" with it's slightly more snarly edge and meaty industrial guitars.
By the time that the disc reaches its end in the 9-minute epic of "A Certain Stuuckey," lots of people are playing along, giving the track an almost electronic jam session feel. Ka-Spel again contributes vocals to the track and while the beginning feels sort of off-kilter with the slap bass by Key, it all comes together about one-third of the way in and makes for an interesting electronic track with a touch of ethnic feels and the absolutely bizarre spoken word vocals. In the end, Skinny Puppy fans will probably find themselves drooling at the prospects of a full-fledged reunion with the pairing on "Frozen Sky," while others will find Key finally coming into form on a post SP release of his own. The outside contributors add a lot, but there's no doubt that his skills have been honed nicely over the past couple years as well.