ALBUM REVIEW: Checkpoint Charlie from Ghost Against Ghost (EP)

by Rachele Hales

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The last time we checked in with Christopher Bono he had just released his full-length album Bardo.  Now he’s back with an EP from his latest project Ghost Against Ghost, a beautiful and brutal triumph that tackles the theme of love.  Checkpoint Charlie only glimpses the full theme, which will be presented completely in the double-length album Oia later this year.


Oia will be a 2-hour dark/romantic saga about love and separation from love, outlining “a vast, emotional arc that examines the nature and definition of love, moving from the heart-wrenching experience of separation – a result of love fixated on one human or object – to the realization of a superior form of love discovered through empirical insight and liberation from fixation.”  What we get in this EP is only a slice of that love story.  “Part 1” draws upon influence from late romantic composers and uses the dreamy, lush layering Bono is so deft at to gently coax the listener into a psychedelic, melancholic experience.  It’s the kind of sad that makes me want to call Bono on the phone just to check in and make sure he’s okay.  Then “Part 2: The Descent” fades in and delivers one gut punch of a drone “designed to voice the sense of persistent darkness that abounds in the experience of despair once the terror of heartbreak sets in.”  Now the urge to make that phone call becomes the need to lay on the couch and have an ugly cry – but in a good way!  Bono taps into the universal anguish of heartbreak and strips it of adjectives, of metaphors, and gives us a piece of music that sounds like one long, cathartic scream.  But still in a good way!

At the end of the 14ish minute EP I felt like a woman without skin; a bundle of raw, exposed nerves.  The upcoming release of “Oia” will conclude this story arc, no doubt with the healing instrumentals we always love from Bono, and offer some grace and clarity to our imagined protagonist and balance out the penetrating despair Checkpoint Charlie evokes.  Until then, what good story is complete without compelling & emotional starting point?  Listen to this EP now and ready the ships for our hero’s journey to harmony.