Monolake - Ghosts

How I hate those little flies. Impossible to sleep, it is too hot, no wind, just motionless humid air. Five weeks with no change and the gods are laughing at us. Every part of my body hurts, and I cannot think straight. Last Friday the solar panel cracked in the middle of the night, I have no idea why and I almost don't care anymore. They will not find anything here anyway.

Monolake - Ghosts album cover

2012 | imbalance | ML 026

01 Ghosts 5:05
02 Toku 5:42
03 Afterglow 5:14
04 Hitting the Surface 7:42
05 Discontinuity 4:49
06 The Existence of Time 5:09
07 Phenomenon 5:59
08 Unstable Matter 5:42
09 Lilith 5:07
10 Aligning the Daemon 4:51
11 Foreign Object 5:19

Total running time: 60:43

Created by Robert Henke 2011.

Release date: February 2012

Formats: digital, CD, double vinyl

Buy at Hardwax

Monolake - Ghosts album cover back

Am I awake now?

They set up tons of equipment and the results so far: The strange noises during the nights got louder and louder. Some kind of monotonous moans that seem to come from nowhere. The scientists run around and pretend that they know what goes on but they have no clue. And they are frightened, I can see it. How they look around, how they stop chatting when they get closer. How they avoid talking with me about their work: Ah yeah, we make some progress, it takes time to initialise the system, we have some preliminary data, but things need to be calibrated first...

The fact that Jonathan died in the cave whilst connecting the data lines does not help much to improve the situation. He was not afraid. I am also not afraid. I am just here to write things down.

They tell me what they say is important for the world and I write it down. I had more demanding jobs. Apart from the flies.

I found a lovely spot on the hill near the east gate, my private little escape from the madness. I watch the birds, listen to the occasional rolls of distant thunder, and enjoy the saturated colors of the forest.

Monolake - Ghosts album cover inside left

* * * The poison of the yellow-red frog acts fast and efficient. By the time Jonathan realised something was seriously wrong it was already too late. He tried to estimate if he could make it out in time, but his vision got already blurry. He thought of leaving a note to prevent the crew from coming down and making the same mistake, but before he could think any further his heart stopped beating. When his body touched the surface of the dark lake, he was already dead * * *

Watching the gecko watching the flies.

Hi Sharif, please get in touch with me as soon as you can. Things got a bit out of hand here and I need to talk. Don't use the mobile phone, simply come by and tell the guard you're bringing in the replacement parts for the solar panel. Don't come after sunset, and don't take the northern entrance. You know where to find me..

Monolake - Ghosts album cover inside right

You do not exist. Get out of my head.


Monolake - Ghosts album CD

The title of this album, "Ghosts", came to my mind at a quite early stage. I started taking notes about topics connected to the term, read about mythologies and collected ideas. I also often write fragmentary texts, short cinematic scenes that I come up with when my head is idling. One of these texts is included in the artwork of the album. It serves as a window to a bigger drama, and the music offers another view. The text also links 'Ghosts' to the Silence album from 2009 and to 'Archaeopteryx' from 2020. All stories are related, although I don't know exactly how.

Independently of the aim to create a new album I constantly try out things in the studio. In December 2010, a musical sketch started to emerge that had a dark and evil quality. I knew this would become a core part of a future album and I gave that sketch also the working title 'Ghosts'. Finding new material with similar color turned out to be more difficult than I did anticipate so I changed my strategy and worked on sounds and shapes of a very different vibe; whimsical little sonic creatures, potentially mean or helpful spirits that have their very own life.

I recorded and transformed sounds from objects I found in my flat; glasses, paper, thin plastic sheets, stones, pebbles in a salad bowl and so on. The track 'Taku' mainly consists of recordings I made with two empty glasses clicking at each other, and 'Unstable Matter' is an exercise in applying complex transformations to all kinds of recordings: a bunch of vintage cymbals, my own voice, metal plates, singing bowls, bells, and a rusty hi-hat. I composed a lot of sketches, mainly rhythmical fragments, but most of them I had to throw away at some point. Either I did not like specific elements in them or they did not fit in my theme of a world of ghosts.

Very often I assigned the same name to different sketches in that process, since I did like the title, but not the music. 'Foreign Object' is the most extreme case: A track with that name got completely discarded on the evening prior to the final CD mastering process and replaced by a new composition created in a rush at that very night.

I always aim to create an album that works as one large structure, not just an arbitrary collection of songs. Even whilst, (or maybe even because) this is not the way most music is consumed in the age of random mp3 collections and endless streaming.

Monolake - Ghosts album vinyl label

I always felt that my Ghosts album needs to end with the track 'Ghosts' and every other decision had to be a consequence of this paradigm. I wanted the album to end with a dark and sad message: get out of my head. You do not exist anymore. However, when playing back the final edits in Basel prior to the mastering, my friend and host Daniel insisted that 'Ghosts' has to be the first track and just grabbed my computer to completely rearrange the album. After his intervention everything made much more sense.

The transitions between the tracks provided new pleasurable surprises - apart from the very end of the album, which just did not work at all anymore. I decided that I either have to skip the last track and end with 'Aligning the Daemon' or that I need to come up with something new in three hours, with nothing but my laptop and two cheap hi-fi speakers. The ghosts and spirits of that night liked the idea, and when they told me to record a Macintosh system voice and showed me how to transform these recordings in a parody of a medieval chant, full of devilish minor thirds, I knew it would turn out to be great.

Monolake - Ghosts album vinyl label


The album was composed, edited, recorded and mixed entirely in Ableton Live. The synthetic sounds are the results of tweaking the Operator, Simpler, Sampler and Live's audio effects, my Max4Live synthesizer 'Granulator', a bit of convolution reverb and a lot of Live's own reverb. An important role in the sound design also played the creative usage of Live's various time stretch algorithms. The 'Tension' synthesizer's physical model of a violin string bombarded with rapid parameter changes sent from a Max patch is responsible for the odd sounds on 'Phenomenon'. Other important contributions to my sonic universe come from my collection of vintage hardware synthesizers: Resonant timbres of a Sequential Circuits Prophet VS on 'Afterglow', bell-like sounds of a NED Synclavier II on 'Foreign Object', various timbres from a Yamaha DX-27 piped through an Alesis Quadraverb and a Lexicon PCM-80 reverb, pads from a Oberheim Xpander and much more.


Mastered in December 2011 at Idee und Klang in Basel by Daniel Dettwiler. Album photos taken at Wentworth Falls, Austraila by Robert Henke.

Silence <-- Ghosts --> VLSI