Unto Ashes are enjoying international recognition for their breathtaking melange of traditional and modern instruments, for first-class songwriting, and excellent vocal performances. Once inspired by early Dead Can Dance, Coil and This Mortal Coil, one treats this quartet in the meantime as the leading exponent of this blend of music.
And no wonder; Unto Ashes expand the arc of those bands into their own highly original sound, which combines mysticism, magick, ethereal moods, gothicism, and neo-classicism, yet can also shed light upon archaic, obscure, experimental, and above all gloomy moods again and again in new, fascinating ways.
The new album Empty Into White is no exception. Yes, I think one can say that in short, it brings multi-facetedness, variety of sound and mood to new heights. Medieval and even more ancient sounds and
song-structures bring to bear ever more influence upon the music of Unto Ashes, transmitted through diverse Arabian and Persian Instruments, which add much to the quartet's collection of instruments, which features exotics such as dulcimer, tamboura, tabla and hurdy-gurdy.
Let's dive into the sonic cosmos of this fascinating group.
Various bells and lutelike, medieval sounds usher the listener into the magical world of Empty Into White. After the opening track, titled "C'y commence le jeu," fades away, a lovely feminine voice bewitches us, embellished by tablas, Arabian stringed instruments and dense webs of strings, in the "Spider Song." One feels transported into the colorful activity of a Persian marketplace.
It becomes more mystical and dramatic with "I Cover You With Blood."
The intro combines gloomy neoclassical strings with dulcimer
arpeggios and warm, neo-folk male voice. In the refrain a female
voice joins in and makes the piece, which adds progressively thicker
layers, into an unforgettable experience.
In "Witches Rune" the opposites of charming femininity and gloomy
menace rebound off one another. Or perhaps these are not opposites at
all? In any case, this simple song streams with a pure enchantment
that makes us think of fairy tales. Similarly, "Bathsheba Writhing"
abducts us with magical powers of seduction directly into the tales
of the One Thousand and One Nights.
What pleased me the most of all were "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie," the gem
of a dirge with two guitars and several voices, which cannot offer
enough melancholy--only it's much too short, and the following song
"Ah, Sunflower," which delivers similar sounds and moods. It's as if
Unto Ashes wishes to re-accustom us to homelike sounds after an
exciting journey into faraway lands.
And it's good to do so. For it is always beautiful again--even
musically--to come home, wherever that might be. Unto Ashes belong to
the few who can take us along on such a journey and still bring us
safely back home.
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