It should come as no surprise at this point that the works that inhabit the Ghost Box bubble occupy a fevered delirium of television music memories, hypnogogic haze, and synth-pop saturation, but the latest turns up the dials on all the markers. While Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle usually take up the top billing within this melted music box, the works of Berlin conceptual artist Sebastian Counts fit into the baroque windup wonderland quite nicely under the name ToiToiToi. The band’s last album for the Box landed in 2017 — a heady collage of burbling synths with a propensity for European folk motifs and the odd vocal snippet. Vaganten follows much the same, though this time the tone is lighter, dancing through digitized folk festivals like an AI trying to make sense medieval tradition. The album corrodes the capsule of ritual, glitching and glossing like 50 years of home movie footage and BBC radio lab leftovers cut together with a wicked sense of humor.
While the year has seen a particularly heavy influx into the Library Music coffers, ToiToiToi adds to the edges of the genre, while melting away the frayed ends. There’s a sense that many of Counts’ works could have been straightforward synth takes left in the sun to melt with field recordings, the ripple of Renaissance laces its fingers with the documentary beds for a feeling of memories maligned — an exaggeration of the past that renders it in funhouse shapes. The effect lifts the reverence for the old, often outdated ways being enshrined. The Dramamine dance of Vaganten never looses hold, twisting the past into a queasy calm.