“Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night” by On

Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess filtered through the mind of Helge Sten (Deathprod).


On is the unique collaboration between French composer/producer Sylvain Chauveau and Chicago-based percussionist Steven Hess (Haptic, Pan American). I say unique because the band has a rather strange way of presenting its work – the concept is simple, to record a record in the studio, and then place it in the hands of a third party. The resulting work is then ‘remixed’ (for want of a better word) and the album is complete. Maybe we will never know what ‘Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night’ would have sounded like in the hands of a different musician, or even totally unprocessed, but that would be defeating the point of On.

This time around the three hours of delicate source material was handled by none other than the Norwegian master of dark ambient Helge Sten aka Deathprod. Sten’s characteristic smudged ambience is evident as he submerges Chauveau and Hess’s compositions beneath a swamp of cavernous reverb and synthesized smoke. Hess’s patented percussive drones are filtered into the distant buzz of an insect’s wings, and Chauveau’s prepared guitar becomes a tectonic rumble from another continent. At times it is difficult to discern where On stops and Deathprod begins, such is the mastery of Sten’s production and the appropriateness of Chauveau and Hess’s recordings.

Like only the finest records in the dark ambient genre, ‘Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night’ guides you to another world for its sixty-minute duration. Haunted and trembling, these recordings (made in 2003) marked the conclusion of the Deathprod project as Helge Sten vowed never to record under the name again. It is easy to appreciate then how rare a record like this is to come across, and it is a work that should be savoured accordingly.