Review: The Æther and the Ash (2007)


artist: The æther and the Ash
release: The æther and the Ash
format: CD-R
year of release: 2007
label: Coun­cil Records
dur­a­tion: 25:58

I think 2007 was a very inter­est­ing year, music­ally. It was a really good year for the dark folk genres, when many prom­ising new acts revealed them­selves. The Amer­ican exper­i­mental folk and neo­clas­sical act The æther and the Ash released this, their first EP in the very last month of the year and it is, in my opin­ion, a very worthy good bye to a fine year. Read this, and then give them a chance. I am sure you will agree.

The instru­mental intro “Gates of Morn­ing” touched me quite deeply I must admit. I froze in move­ment when the bells faded out and a most tre­mend­ous violin com­pos­i­tion entered, so beau­ti­ful and so sad. There is also a sweet acous­tic gui­tar in the pic­ture, which leads us straight into “The Bright Hours”. It brings to my mind some of the slower songs by Sol Invictus, with added ‘gothic’ feel­ing, almost haunt­ing at some moments. This song also intro­duces us to a voice, which at times is not far from David Tibet-dramatic but mostly it’s on a more mel­low level.
When speak­ing of David Tibet I take the oppor­tun­ity to present the third track. “Passing to Night” reminds me of the middle 90’s work of Cur­rent 93. Maybe most because of the lyr­ics, which are tra­di­tional but sounds like some­thing Cur­rent 93 could have used, but there is also a strong Cash­more feel­ing in the gui­tars. And the way it jumps from tran­quil to the­at­rical and back is also some­thing that con­trib­utes. At the same time, it brings the feel­ing of des­ol­a­tion and loneli­ness of Har­vest Rain to mind. This should be con­sidered the best track if you ask me. I would also like to send cred­its to the lady that is help­ing out with some song lines in this track! The fourth song, “XXXVI” is also very nice where piano plays the role as the lead­ing instru­ment, but the strongest side here are the lyr­ics. To end this, The æther and the Ash put in an instru­mental piece called “Natt” (which is actu­ally the Swedish word for ‘night’). It is pretty much in the same vein as the intro and it’s divided into two parts, one sad and one even sad­der.

Eight is a high score, but very well deserved. It could have been higher if there were more songs because that’s what you want when it’s over. There are also some pro­duc­tion flaws here and there but I’m not sure if that’s decreas­ing the over-all score. Plus also for the con­stant feel­ing of sad­ness and the hand made pack­age and nice cover art. I’m sure that if this EP reaches out to it’s right audi­ence it will give The æther and the Ash the repu­ta­tion they need to become some­thing really, really big.

Reviewed by CME

Track­list:

1. Gates of Morn­ing (3:38)
2. The Bright Hours (4:39)
3. Passing to Night (5:45)
4. XXXVI (6:53)
5. Natt (5:25)