Ghoul Skool is a Norwegian solo-project of Magnus Myrtveit that has made a few net-releases, but this is his first actual physical release - and the first one for the label as well, if you don't count their promo-tape.
The untitled EP presents songs ranging from poppy and catchy shoegaze to noisier and more threatening soundscapes a'la the brooding "Ghoul Cereal," to some more neutral but still rather bold and experimental electronic tunes. This twenty minutes of kind-of poppy experimentation is seamed together by its really lo-fi, almost ascetic soundscape, which softens the songs' stylistic differences. The occasional sid-chips team up with noisier expression and metallic guitars, and some calm male vocals appear in the background every now and then to bring just the right amount of human touch to the soundscape.
The overall feel and soundscape of the release switches between softer pop-like moments and soothing ambient-moments, but the lo-fi-noisiness raises its head amidst all the calmness to make it more rugged and interesting. The song "Saturday Night" is a pretty good example of Ghoul Skool's style, as it mixes crude and metallic noisiness together with peaceful ambient, soft digital percussions and other rhythms to create a moving and seemingly formless mass of different things melted together. It sounds crude, safe and interesting all at the same time; it's pointless, in a way, but still very valid.
The oddly dark, neon-like purple colouring is accompanied by some pixelation, making me believe that the cover image was intentionally corrupted. The used font emphasizes the retro and lo-fi approach, and overall the visual side adds to the EPs perplexing nature. I don't usually appreciate using glossy photo-paper as the cover material, but with a price this low one can't really complain. It does add a good amount of depth to the visuals, though, but I still perceive it as an unnecessarily lifeless-feeling choice.
Although the EP presents very interesting mixtures of different styles, it doesn't manage to keep up its value through the whole 20 minutes. The songs partly seem like excerpts that just begin and end with too little care given to their flow, especially as they tend to end to a quick fade-out. Partly for the same reason the EP seems a tad disjointed; it's moreso a compilation of songs than a complete, functioning EP, which results in its whole being a bit difficult to grasp. I may exaggerate a bit, but the overall feel is undeniably unfinished, which results the EP being too easy to forget to your shelf instead of listening to it non-stop.
The tape is a good and interesting one, but overall falls short of its capabilities. I salute the artist for succeeding in using the boldly crude soundscape to the songs' advantage, but criticize him for finalizing the tape with seemingly too much haste.