Following on from 2013's 'Sadness', France's Exponentia, AKA Ludovic Dhenry releases his latest gothic meets classical opus 'Ghost'. Experimental atmospheres collide with ambient textures and creaking undead vocal strains. 'Sadness' had suffered from sounding somewhat unfinished, as though it were a demo rather than a completed album. Whereas 'Ghost' still sounds a little unfinished again. It is most definitely a fuller release.
The vocals that pepper the release recall the likes of Sopor Aeternus and compliment the slow and dark sounds of the songs. The sonic formula works particularly well on songs such as, 'Deadly Impact', 'Prisoner Of The Painting', 'Soul Escapes', 'Dead-End' and 'Flight Of Souls' where Dhenry holds back from hitting to many high notes on the synth and betraying their cheap digital source. Indeed the more ambient, droning styles of 'Soul Escapes', 'Dead-End' and 'Flight Of Souls' are easily the highlights of the album as they lack the awkward drums of earlier songs and refrain from using the low-fi strings that otherwise give the recording a rather dated sound.
The production is rather clunky, but still rather atmospheric, with plenty of echo and reverb dunning through the mix. It's just the heavy use of synthesized instruments that holds Dhenry back in terms of execution. His compositions are fundamentally solid, he should really just have a classical quartet backing him to get the most from his songs.
'Ghost' is definitely a step-up for Dhenry in terms of both instrumentation and execution, but there is still ground to be gained until Exponentia reaches its full potential as a project. Some acoustic instruments and a bigger recording budget would bring out his best.