Those who grow up listening to and studying classical music may be idealised as espousing a more cultivated outlook or disciplined diligence, but as experience or observation so often demonstrates, it opens many unexpected doors of opportunity. One half of Sydney indie quartet, Ghoul - brothers Ivan and Pavle Vizintin - have effectively intertwined the two. "In our family, classical music was really high on the agenda," says vocalist Ivan Vizintin. "My dad is really into it, so that's the sort of stuff we would listen to in the car." Both brothers studied piano in their youth (Ivan also played clarinet), but it wasn't long before Pavle taught himself bass and in Ivan's case, guitar. What procured in the form of Ghoul, though, would prove even more surprising: foreboding yet cathartic electronica-driven experimental music - the strangely entrancing kind that's underpinned by an ethereal croon worthy of Antony Hegarty comparisons.
Discovering that his voice could be utilised as a distinctive instrument, however, was an accidental occurrence. "No one else wanted to sing, so I was left with the vocal duties," Ivan chuckles. "I only really started singing when I got a car, so it must have been at 17 or 18, and I would just sing along in the car all the time. It was only after a few years that it developed and it's still developing."
The entrancing 3Mark - from their recently-released second mini-album, Dunks - is set to be one of the most memorable songs of 2011. At the beginning of the track's writing process, the group experimented with loop-based music software, Ableton, in their desire to incorporate dubstep influences. "That one started as a bunch of parts that we programmed on the computer, and Pavle was saying that it was really boring and didn't like it," Ivan laughs. "Then we came up with this synth line and built the song around that. [3Mark] was really hard to finish - it was the last song that we finished for the record - and for a long time I didn't have any vocals for it." Ironic, considering it features, arguably, Ivan's finest vocal delivery.
Dreambeat captures that great fusion of the introspective and visceral, which is intrinsic to Ghoul's music and invoking of Radiohead and Liars. "That one was probably the song that we spent the longest on 'cause we kept revisiting and rethinking the arrangements," Ivan recalls. "We were listening to a lot of This Heat and sort of wanted to write a song like Paper Hats off their album, Deceit (1981), so that's where the idea for the guitars came from. Everything sort of fell into place... a lot of long songs will have a little section that will drift off and you lose interest in it... we really wanted to just make something that's really cathartic and slowly builds up to this climax."
Ghoul also share a strong artistic and personal connection to PVT (formerly Pivot) and Seekae. Ivan contributed vocals to Seekae's debut album, The Sound Of Trees Falling On People (and now, even a rehearsal space is shared between the Sydney electronic trio and Ghoul), while Lawrence Pike of PVT has been one of their most avid supporters.
Ghoul's philosophy on the pursuit of musical enlightenment has certainly evolved since their initiation a few years ago. "When we started and did our first EP, first of all we didn't really expect anyone to listen to it ... and when people did, it was really exciting and great, and it kind of put a lot of pressure on us to do something just as good or better," Ivan considers. "We've reached the stage where we're writing an album and still under the same pressures, but I feel that we have a better understanding of songwriting and how to function as a band, so there's a good support foundation in everything that we do. We can still keep that element of experimentation while being able to reach a wider audience."
Ivan asserts that the recording of Ghoul's debut full-length album has been "much easier than any other recording we've ever done...mostly because we're not second guessing ourselves anymore". "We're going in with our instincts and seeing how far that will take us," he muses. "We did have around 40 demos that we culled to about 14, so there was a lot of material that we threw away, but it just feels really natural. The pressure's still there but it's sort of a different type of pressure because we're writing on sort of a high, which is really helping our confidence levels. We're really excited when we get into the studio or when we see each other to rehearse, so everything's just flying naturally."
GHOUL's new mini-album Dunks is out now through Inertia.