- David Bentley
The Ghost of Helags – Chemistry (single)
There is a certain chemistry about Sweden’s Jon Alexander Ericson (once keyboardist with Alberta Cross and who also has a solo project, Helax) and Germany’s Teresa Woischiski (who also pops up as vocalist on Helax). The ‘dream pop’ duo Ghost of Helags, as they are labelled, and who flit between Berlin and Uppsala, Sweden, have been working towards a soon to be released album for some time. They have an unerring ability to produce very soft ballads alongside harder-hitting electronic and even disco numbers and I suppose ‘Chemistry’ falls into that latter bracket, with its 1980s techno beat courtesy of a drum machine.
Their band name by the way comes from Sweden’s highest mountain south of the Arctic Circle, one which has a mysterious spectral presence about it.
‘Chemistry’ appears to be something of a departure for them from recent form. I’m thinking in particular of one of their recent singles, ‘Autobahn Lullaby’, a luscious ballad, and which is the Helags I prefer. This is more of a heavy disco number which rises in intensity, with its insistent beat and lyric, without quite hitting a peak. Long before the end you’re conversant with the fact that there’s nothing left out there that makes Teresa scared of nothing. Double negatives and double entendres rule here.
But there is a reason for that. Made during the night-time, for the night-time, ‘Chemistry’ was written as the band found itself traversing Europe after-hours in the ghostly grip of midwinter. Winding their way through darkened streets and desolate suburbs, the eerie world beyond the window pane and its mysterious urban spectres began to drift into a new song; words and music falling into place “like breath condensing on cool glass.”
That certainly comes across as the song progresses, like it’s a journey from hell, something akin to the last bus out of Manchester for Oldham on a Saturday night.
I recommend several listens to it as Teresa’s voice alone will eventually hook you in.
With material as diverse as this and ‘Autobahn Lullaby’ (and I suggest checking out others as well such as ‘Under my skin’ and ‘Wildest Dreams’) the album is sure to be varied.
They are a very popular live act in Germany and I know they would like to play the UK, but unfortunately no prospect of gigs here right now of course.
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