Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
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
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