Unto Ashes — Grave Blessings
(Projekt 172, 2005, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2006-05-01Given their penchant for unusual melodic angles, middle-eastern modalities, medieval and gothic stylisms, and folky mysticism, one would be amiss to review this band without mentioning some similarities with – and the obvious influence of Dead Can Dance. That said however, Unto Ashes does them one or two better, especially in the vocal department; the harmonies between the three primary members (Michael Laird, Natalia Lincoln, and Mariko) are nothing short of superb, and take the material to a whole new level. Instrumentation is provided by Laird (guitar, dulcimer, percussion, hammered dulcimer), Lincoln (keyboard), and a number of guests playing everything from french horn and balalaika to cello and didgeridoo, as well as additional vocals. The instrumentation is sparse on some cuts, and more full on others, giving a strong sense of variety across the fifteen pieces, but always arriving at a perfect balance with the voices. The material is a combination of band arrangements of ancient and traditional pieces, and original collaborations by the three primaries (and occasionally the guests as well), each with its own unique character and spirit. The songs here never get samey – there seems to be a new twist at every turn, and the disc fares all the better for it. Press the repeat button again, please.
Related artist(s): Unto Ashes
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more