Review – Ceiling Spirits – The Bloodwren

Intense, complex, cataclysmic and burning sounds churn through close to an hour of swirling, progressive composition as the Ceiling Spirits project – led by enigmatic Milwaukee musician, Mario Quadracci – brings musical friends together, including The National’s Brian Devendorf and Augustines’ Eric Sanderson.

Unmistakeably, unapologetically and indefinably rich in orchestration, creativity and borderless scope, Quadracci’s tone of instrumental post/progressive-rock fell initially from the table of influences such as Pink Floyd and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Prioritising vision over conventional format, a full-length album of five songs advocates for a slowed down listening experience far beyond conformity.

Ceiling Spirits first began as an experiment in live film scoring where Quadracci would perform solo, utilising extensive looping, effects and non-traditional guitar techniques to create dense atmospheric soundscapes behind self-produced films pieced together from found footage. The project expanded to include other musicians, including a string ensemble to flesh out the material born from the live shows but decidedly more compositionally constrained to suit an LP. The Ceiling Spirits’ debut album was recorded in London and Ireland, produced by Gareth Jones, whose credits include work on Depeche Mode and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums, and mixed at Abbey Road.

With that build up from the PR information, it sounds like this is going to be a very ‘busy’ album with lots going on and that can sometimes lead to a rather detached musical experience, one that is full of disharmony and discord and one that is rather incongruous but, worry not dear reader as what Mario Quadracci delivers with his Ceiling Spirits project is a rather wonderful, visceral encounter and one that makes you think and question. It is not an easy listen in places, in fact in can be very dark, but everything here has a place and is there for a reason.

‘The Bloodwren’ is five tracks of compelling, intensive music that hypnotises, fascinates and mesmerises the listener. This album is like a soundtrack to a dark, psychological thriller that gets under your skin and leaves you wanting more, even if that is going to take you to some very dark places indeed! The quality of musicianship on show is quite remarkable, the use of strings to engender a wide cornucopia of emotions is a work of genius, they alternately pluck at your heartstrings and then leave you a nervous wreck of anticipation. My favourite, Platonic Forms, the second longest track at nearly fourteen minutes, is an utterly enthralling musical tour-de-force that ebbs and flows with deliciously dark nuances and has a stark, irresistible beauty deep at its core.

The album opens with the haunting complexities of the brilliant single release Falter, an orchestral, electronic symphonic delight that is full of a dramatic tension and suspense that leaves your aural senses on high alert. With Mario having quickly learned to read music after stepping onto the path of technical music education, every note of Ceiling Spirits’ sounds is painstakingly rehearsed on paper, written between both city (more kinetic, rhythmic work) and rural (expansive, harmonic sounds) locations, before entering the studio. When it comes to the title track, The Bloodwren, you can hear this perfection in every note and every musical passage, it is all endlessly fascinating and flawlessly composed and performed. As complex emotionally as it is musically, this is a piece of modern classical music with wonderfully complex electronic symphonic overtones and a deep sense of passion, empathy and and overriding grace to its feel.

The short, hyper intensive and profound A Slide is an off kilter experiment in noise pollution that strips your senses raw and the album closes with the sublime, uncomfortable Oscillopia in Oblivion, a piece of music that asks questions of the listener that they may be unable or unwilling to answer. This stark, pared back number is full of feedback and is more noise than music. It pervades the atmosphere and your very soul in quite a disturbing manner, leaving hints of a future that you may not wish to face.

‘The Bloodwren’ is an experimental and highly adventurous journey into music that is dark and disturbing at times but which also has a purity at its heart. The wonderfully capacious soundscapes created by Ceiling Spirits are proof that man is forever creative, whichever direction that takes us in.

Released digitally on 12th April, 2024, order here:

The Bloodwren | Ceiling Spirits (

Released 14th June, 2024 on vinyl, order here:

Ceiling Spirits THE BLOODWREN (

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