Music Reviews

This Ascension

Tears In Rain Light And Shade


Delivering powerful, guitar-driven goth instrumentals paired with gentle female vocals often more akin to mesmerizing incantations than singing, This Ascension immerses you in a shadowed world of hazy hues sketched from your deepest fears and dreams. Tears And Rain and Light And Shade were This Ascension’s first two albums, released in 1989 and 1992, respectively, and now available again from Projekt. Both albums have much to recommend them, although overall Light And Shade is more polished, with haunting operatic singing from Dru (unfortunately somewhat muffled in the recording process) that reminds me a bit of Lisa Hammer’s amazing vocals for Requiem In White. Kevin Serra’s shimmering, sinuous guitar work shines through on both albums, with perhaps a bit more of a rock-ish attack on Light And Shade.

Still, my favorite track from both albums is actually on Tears And Rain – “Poor Mortal Lost.” Starting with dark, echoing drums, thudding bass and funereal synth, and plucked jangly guitar notes shimmering like raindrops in the moonlight, the song paints a picture of a black night with endless rain falling from your eyelashes down your nose to splash in muddy puddles at your feet, while a beguiling maiden, innocent and pure in her white lace nightgown, fluttering slightly though there is no wind, takes your hand in hers and promises she’ll save you while the heartbeat pounding in your ears deafens you to the whispering voices warning you to “save your mind and save your soul: beware of her.”

A similar epic, “Ill Met by Moonlight,” graces Light And Shade, with chiming synth and guitar like magic moonglow shimmering as a breathtaking figure with emerald eyes and white lace gown circles a faery ring with her hands stretched out to the sky, the music ebbing and flowing with the tides of the frenzy of her dance. “August Rain” has a truly haunting guitar melody, slow-strummed and melancholy, that has stayed with me ever since I first heard Trance to the Sun’s version of it on their 1994 album Ghost Forest. And the album-closing instrumental “Exit” sends chills down my spine with its spooky synth, muted roar of guitars, and pounding drums and bass, evoking a dance of death in a forgotten graveyard, or a lonely fog-shrouded highway at night, or a shattered plain leading up to jagged mountains and gaping ruins beneath a leaden sky.

Projekt Records, PO Box 9140, Long Island City, NY 11103; • This Ascension, PO Box 206, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-0206;

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