African Ghost Valley – Iberville

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”Iberville” is inspired by folk-tales of an age-old pipe smoking wanderer.

The traveler, a women covered in tattered cloth adorned with earthen trinkets, feathered headpiece, a sword, and torch. She treks through dense forest with mountain vistas. Only seldom being seen by the few that find themselves deep in the brush.

African Ghost Valley are experts at generating larger than life atmospheres. They bring a warmth, to dark narratives, that continues reverberating long after the compositions end. Each track is filled with drive, mystery, and chock full of surprises. What we love about these guys is they give gutsy audio performances by just jumping straight into the deep end. AGV have fined tuned their craft. A vision as haunting as it is exciting.

Our campaign begins along neglected paths, barely perceptible but for a few snapped branches, an occasional track, or residue from ash. Engulfed in natural beauty that shimmers with an unnatural orange glow of light; a heavy fog rolls over the landscape.

Spectral visions break in the vapors, traces of action bubble into view before hazy plumes cast visions of a clandestine gathering inside a cave. Dark robed figures form a circle around indecipherable symbols. Torch flames flicker, drums beat; shrieks, grunts, and chants with call for the ancient wonderer. Each cult member fully entranced, gives themselves away to divinations of the traveler’s sorcery.

Harsh beams of light burn through closed lids. Awaken to a smeared memory or perhaps feverish visions? Laying on hard ground with light dusting of snow. Piecing together memories, startled at the possibility “Iberville” may not be a town, village, or even a physical space, but a borderless expanse that exists within us all. A mind eye that existed in our ancestors as well as our progeny. One thing is certain, you leave “Iberville” different than when you arrived.

Album Review

I know we’re a bunch of lily-livered cowards around here, shrinking from anything perceived to be too “dangerous,” or “spooky,” or “full of effort,” but I think in order for us to evolve, as Tabs Out contributors and fans and as human beings in general, we have to face our fears and conquer them. Case in point: we have a new tape here from African Ghost Valley, and if you looked at this thing and thought, “Ghosts? Nope, I’m out,” you’d be doing yourself a complete disservice, not to mention pigeonholing yourself as a “Shaggy” on the spine-o-meter. Because even though this tape does have some creepy vibes to it, there’s no reason that you should buy in to any mass hysteria whipped up certain cassette tape podcasts.

So while “Iberville” from African Ghost Valley is a little spooky, it doesn’t do the whole jump-scare thing at all to make you rethink your involvement. No, African Ghost Valley is instead all about mood, winking samples and synths at us as mystery builds, secrets churn and strive to get out in the open, and mists fall as evening descends. Walking through the woods on the cover illustration is a lone figure, and the seclusion of it all recalls pre-industrial Europe or America, whose untamed wilds were imprinted with the stories the imaginations of those in civilized areas and towns came up with, usually under a trance of religious fervor. What the heck is out there, and why is it constantly stealing our kids?

There I go, freaking you all out again with this thing. Truth is, no matter what’s out there is still out there, and if anybody claims to have authority about it better back it up with some actual evidence. Like, let’s go out wandering in the woods and find out for ourselves, shall we? If African Ghost Valley is a soundtrack to anything, it’s a soundtrack to that, and maybe “Iberville” is simply a jumping-off point. I can’t wait to let the slow-burn sonics of this EP sear into my ear canals as they imply danger and adventure in equal measure. I guess I, unlike many of my colleagues here (and you), have a little bit of backbone about this whole thing after all.

Oh, wait, nope – there is what looks like a witch on the inside of the j-card, and that’s probably the front-cover walker. That’s gonna mess me up for weeks.

“Iberville” out now on Jollies!
- Ryan Masteller
Tabs Out
JANUARY 5, 2021