Ever since magazine editor Mistress McCutchan of Morbid Outlook fame introduced me to the music of this band it has been a sonic love affair of epic proportions. This 1994 release was picked up by Projekt Records and re-released in 2001. Thankfully the folks at Projekt saw to it to keep this phenomenal William Faith production available for the up and coming fans of this band. When it comes to female vocals in an underground band, it is hard to surpass those of This Ascension's Dru Allen. Those who were fortunate to attend Convergence 8 in Montreal undoubtedly had the rare opportunity to see the band perform live.
Since their last release, Sever(1), Dru has also contributed her vocal skills to bands such as Falling You (www.mp3.com/fallingyou) as well as with a side project, Mirabilis, with The Machine In The Garden's Summer Bowman (www.mp3.com/mirabilis). There is also a rare duet with Monica Richards on Faith & The Muse's phenomenal Vera Causa CD.
As of late, much of the underground world seems to be steeped in cover songs, tribute albums, and "disco goth." This is a sad development because the enriching sounds from so many great bands are truly not being heard. Thankfully, This Ascension was garnering loyal the fans with the release of Sever just as that pivotal, trend-changing turning point ensued. Walk Softly, A Dream Lies Here is either a familiar name to the band's hardcore fan base, or a new entry as a reissue to those who recently discovered them via Convergence 8 or from Mp3.com.
Adonis sets the mood by showcasing the glorious musicianship of this band. The track opens a bit slowly before reverting into a foot tapping dark mélange of swirling guitars served over a hot-bed of percussive drumbeats. Exhibition takes the enchantment from the previous track and delivers their tour de force with vocalist Dru. The track has a nod towards some of those great tracks from the 80's without sounding dated in the least. Swandive is a dreamy shoe gazer track that simply evolves with each stanza that culminates in some absolutely delightful guitar chords midway through to the end of the track. Dru's vocals imbibe in the lyrical sentiments about finding one who is beautiful and the emotional and physical temptation of succumbing to the charms.
Light And Shade becomes a simple lyric of word association. The track doesn't resort to extensive prose as much as two or three words a line that are like snapshots of emotion. In spite of the simplicity, the music is orchestrated with multiple chords meant to nudge mental imagery as Dru delivers each lyric. Angel Light is an homage to those whose legendary status simply lives inside us on a global scale. Some may perceive this as a spiritual track while others may conclude it is a sentiment about a "rock star" with godlike status. The carnival like fanfare underscores Dru's vocals that are delivered with child-like wonder while she also goes up and down the vocal scales. Blue Cyberia smolders as though from a dark film score. The keyboards shimmer with elements of light and dark, however we are then immediately thrust into the frenetic energy. This is life in the big city, where dreams are made real but still remain as illusions and lies, thereby melting one into a sea of despair.
Placid is a track that many fans of vampire lore will find quite appealing. Even though the track doesn't directly mention vampires, the innuendo is there with essences of embracement, hiding from the light and the scent of skin. The guitars and keyboards are given a showcase to take on an almost otherworldly quality of morbidity. Sleep provides a seductive intro that is simply hard to resist. Dru whispers very softly at first and we are yielding to a musical force. As enchanting as the track is, there is an essence of anguish as one lies next to a sleeping partner, cogitating imminent death and separation at some point in time. Sandman further extrapolates upon the mortal fear of having it all and then losing it in the blink of an eye.
This Ascension crafted a CD that contemplates all forms of dreams from the relational to the otherworldly. These are the dreams that haunt us during our sleep as well as during our waking reveries. They echo the sentiments of many because no one is immune from these primary concerns at one point or another. Whether it is dreams of glorious love or bittersweet affections, dreams of greatness or that of wanting eternal peace after a lifetime of struggle; it is as though the season's of a person's life is transcribed and preserved in a musical snapshot. Dru delivers these gems that are meant to be taken off the shelf time and again for clarification and she is deftly aided by all those who scored the wonderful music here. This is the type of CD one would want during the gray misty hours of a day that seems to be stagnating. In essence, it is a key that seems to help unlock our own internal mysteries, spurring us onward to reach our own illumination for what needs to be viewed from an objective precipice. This is a worthy purchase for the reflective qualities, or for merely hearing some more great music from a band that deserves all the accolades they receive.
(1) Reviewed in Legends #100.