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Ghosts Captured

by Unto Ashes

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Chuck Lipps
Chuck Lipps thumbnail
Chuck Lipps Unto Ashes is a brilliant band with their original material, but they really knock it out of the park with their cover versions. Favorite track: Runnin' with the Devil [ Van Halen ].
Will thumbnail
Will The selection of these tracks is surprising when compared with Unto Ashes studio albums. The wide variety means there's more than a single song someone can connect with. This embodies the spirit of the band and their influences well. Favorite track: Don't Fear (The Reaper) [ Blue Oyster Cult ].
Scott thumbnail
Scott I thought I was pretty fortunate to get a copy of this back when it was new, & I'm very surprised there were any copies left anywhere. So now there are a few more lucky people out there! So many great versions of so many great songs, I can pretty much pick one at random as a favorite. Favorite track: Heartland [ Sisters of Mercy ].
William Kilby
William Kilby thumbnail
William Kilby Excellent album. I love how Unto Ashes covers all these classic songs in their own way. Punk, metal, goth, darkwave, postpunk, EBM, they cover them all and add their own spin on it all. One of the best albums of 2014 Favorite track: The Him [ New Order ].
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For fifteen years, acclaimed darkwave ensemble Unto Ashes have been unrepentant and uncompromising purveyors of apocalyptic folk, neo-Medieval, gothic, neoclassical, and ethereal music; during that time they have released seven full-length albums and a number of singles and compilation tracks. Their newest release, Ghosts Captured, is easily their most ambitious effort to date. The album contains a total of 25 cover songs (18 on the physical CD and an additional 7 available for free download), breathing “blood-lit” life into an incredibly broad array of songs from some of the most improbable bands on record.

Ghosts Captured‘s reinterpretations comprise more than 90 minutes of exceptional voice arrangements atop Medieval & Renaissance instruments, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and electronics. With considerable panache, imagination, self-assurance, and verve, Unto Ashes have certainly captured the ghosts of some of their favorite pieces, and in their own unique manner seek herewith share their visionary reinterpretations with new and longstanding fans.

Recorded from 1999 to 2014, each track has been meticulously crafted and executed with style and grace. In many instances, the Unto Ashes version sounds totally unlike the original, attesting to the risky, non-conformist approach to music that has characterized the band since its inception.

According to Unto Ashes mastermind Michael Laird, the album is entitled Ghosts Captured because, “These songs have been haunting our minds, in various ways and to varying degrees, for years. We’ve always enjoyed the challenge of making covers, but obviously it can be very risky, even to try, because in so many instances the originals can never be surpassed. However, our only intention has been to pay homage to the original creation, to show our respect and admiration. For us, the process of arranging and recording a cover version can take ages, but we do it to exorcise the ghost of that which has continued to possess us. To be obsessed with a song, to listen to it over and over and over, and study it; to break it down and destroy it; to rebuild it and ultimately to make it our own… This is the only way for us to free ourselves from the obsession. Someone said that the only way out is to go further in. That’s what we’ve had to do. The new album presents the vehicles of our release from songs that have been echoing relentlessly through our minds for so long. They are all ghosts, captured.”

Of the twenty-five tracks, no less than ten are unreleased; four are remixes; and two had originally appeared on obscure, now completely unobtainable compilation CDs.

These chosen songs document the wide range of music that has inspired Unto Ashes over the years. To the uninitiated, some of these selections might be surprising, but Unto Ashes fans have come to celebrate the band’s fascination with many different styles of music, including, but certainly not limited to: heavy metal (herein represented by Blue Oyster Cult and Van Halen), punk (Adolescents, Flipper), new wave (Depeche Mode, New Order, Devo), goth (Christian Death, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy), neo-folk (Current 93, Fire + Ice), dark wave (Qntal, Covenant, Apoptygma Berzerk, Lycia), black metal (Nostarah, Emperor), as well as the still unclassifiable Neil Young and Tori Amos.

How can so many covers of so many disparate artists, recorded over a period of fifteen years and with several different vocalists, still sound like the same band? The answer is that Unto Ashes has never sounded like anyone else, and indeed has always sought to make music that sounds different from album to album, even from song to song. And yet the present album is unmistakably Unto Ashes, with characteristically exotic, often unorthodox instruments such as the harmonium, viola da gamba, hurdy-gurdy, cello, autoharp, dulcimers, Arabic percussion, to name just a few. Long-time and newly converted Unto Ashes fans will be delighted to hear vocals by the inimitable Ericah Hagle, Natalia Lincoln, Sarah Newman, Melody Henry, and Michael Laird, with guest appearances by Bret Helm (Audra) and Sonne Hagal. That all of the above appear for the first time on one Unto Ashes CD is remarkable.

With other bands, a 25-song, 90 minute release might become tedious and predictable; but here, by design, there is considerable dynamic range, not only in tempo, instrumentation, and vocal presentations, but in thematic explorations. While the majority of the songs on the album could easily be classified as belonging to a “darker” side of modern music, Unto Ashes here find occasion to sing instead of brood, to wring beauty from pain and suffering. Ghosts Captured seems to suggest that singing and making beautiful music is the true antidote to all that which is inexplicably bleak in the world. While this practice is as old as mankind, and has extended around the globe, few contemporary bands of any genre and any description seem as capable as Unto Ashes in this context.

Here, among the most unlikely group of songs, and the most improbably diverse mélange of artists, Unto Ashes brings forth their own unmistakable interpretations, in some instance sublimely beautiful, in others terrifying, but always enchanted. While Ghosts Captured is simultaneously dark and compelling, it is also a joy to behold. An album so quixotic, so epic, is unlikely to appear again anytime soon.



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Projekt Records Portland, Oregon

Projekt is America's premier independent label specializing in passionately intense introspective music in the ambient, electronic, ethereal & darkwave genres.

39-year-old Projekt is home to Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo, Michael Stearns, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Aurelio Voltaire and many others. The label continues to nurture the careers of its select roster of artists.
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