Unto Ashes

Unto Ashes

Moon Oppose Moon


Rhythmic, hypnotic, melodic, mysterious — the music of Unto Ashes is all these good things, and many more. Hailing from New York City, they play some of the most innovative gothic/apocalyptic folk music I have heard in a long time. The closest comparisons would probably be to Dead Can Dance and World Serpent bands such as Current 93, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud, or Sol Invictus; also some of the many other groups that have been turning to the medieval at the turn of the millennium, such as Fire & Ice, In Gowan Ring, or the Soil Bleeds Black, spiked with a dose of ’80s synth-pop.

The instrumentation on this album is amazing–the usual guitars, keyboards, and synths, yes, but also harp, hurdy gurdy, plucked and hammered dulcimer, bells, frame drums, and numerous other noisemakers. That combined with the band’s fine ear for medieval and Renaissance textures gives Moon Oppose Moon a wonderfully anachronistic feel, but with a polish and sophistication sometimes lacking from other apocalyptic folk groups. Put this album in your CD player, close your eyes, and prepare to be taken away to another time and place, a shadowed world of haunted loves and broken dreams, ancient evil tempered with infinite tenderness.

It’s very difficult to pick favorites here; almost all the tracks are great, with the exception of some B horror movie synth cheesiness toward the end of the instrumental “Sojourner” and plodding synth-heavy monotony on “Der letzte Ritter.” A lot of the songs combine lovely, delicate music with very dark lyrics, which makes for a deeply disturbing combination, as on the opening “Teach Me How to Drown” or “Scourge.” “Quid Vides?” totally knocks me out — I never realized how well lyrics in Latin (told from the point of view of a corpse floating in the sea) could work in a goth song till I heard this one, and the hurdy gurdy in it is amazingly creepy. And Kit Messick’s singing on “This Duration of Emptiness” is beautiful, bringing to sad life the pointed lyrics about the loss of a love that never was (too bad Kit’s no longer with the band). Finally, I think almost all the instrumental tracks deserve high marks, especially “Kosepkorbacs,” whose frame drums, hammered dulcimer, and synth put me in mind of a masquerade ball, with shades in rotting finery twirling madly in a crumbling, noisome crypt.

Projekt, PO Box 9140, Long Island City, NY 11103, http://www.projekt.com

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