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Formed by the duo Mark Railton (music, synths) and Jordan Robbins (vocals) from Melbourne, Australia, this band got their start in the late 90's amidst the turning tide of electronic music influencing gothic rock and the launch of the digital age of music.  They put together their debut album Ancient Curse for a release in 1999 on the UK label Nightbreed Records.  This release quickly gave them some exposure in Europe as well as in their home country of Australia through the many live performances the band would do.  After this debut release, the band took their time to study out and work on their follow-up work titled Rapture.  This album would really gain the group some great exposure around the world including more live gigs in Europe, positive press and DJ reviews and left everyone wanting more.  Many may have given up hope after the long delay, but 2006 finally saw the release of their new album Ascension on Ground Under Productions (which subsequently closed down after this release) and in Europe through Endless Records.

With the release of each album we're presented with a special treat in this duo's choice of musical genres and talents not only in the way they put together music and vocals, but the underlying message in the lyrics is profound and anything but shallow like so much electronic music released today.  These messages go beyond the instant gratification or angry political protests, but speak of despair, love and hope.  The music on all albums is a combination of soaring electronics and synths on a techno / trance beat, moving fast and heavy, but incorporating some guitars and symphonic structures for a definite goth feeling.  Jordan's vocals vary from heavy, deep, brooding and dark to soaring male ethereal that captivates the listener's heart.

From the first moment I heard the demo version of "Zen" presented on the Dark Awakening Vol. 2 compilation I know this was going to be a new favorite band in many music libraries.  Fans will certainly be able to hear many selections here from the past and present on the radio shows.  Hopefully we'll have a few more albums from this band in the future, we'll keep an eye out for it.

Ascension - Review

I had almost given up hope of ever hearing another release from this band, their website wasn't kept up-to-date and the label wasn't sharing much information, then finally in late 2005 we received word that this album was due for release.  We still had a long wait until it was finally made available and officially released in 2006. For those that have enjoyed this band's past two albums, you'll absolutely love this one as well.  And for those that aren't familiar with this band, I'll try and give a good description of what can be expected and hopefully when listeners have a chance to hear it, they'll agree with what's said here.

Like their previous album, this one seems to be structured in such a way that it's really best to listen to it in it's entirety, although selecting tracks for radio and club play has been an easy task, because just about any piece will do and they do stand alone as solid pieces.  "Through the Darkness" is the kick off piece for the album really bringing out the mix of goth and electro-pop influences from this band in the slowly building introduction, the soaring electronics and vocals and simple building lyrics that are virtually composed of one phrase building one or two words on the other for a complete phrase by the time the end of the song is reached about six minutes later.  We're immediately brought to a more familiar track composition and style with "Wine" which presents us with a solid electronic musical piece but a different twist on the vocals.  This time Jordan brings out his solid deep voice to present us with the faith-based lyrics that are as moving in style as content.  This doesn't mean we don't get to enjoy those soaring vocals that he does so well as we build to the chorus there's plenty of emotionally rich vocals on this and most tracks on the album.

In thinking about why I enjoy this album and this group in particular more than many other recent releases in similar genres, it seems they're different in many ways, yet they leave the "shock and awe" methodology and heavy experimentation behind and simply build on a solid talent of composing great dance-friendly music full of these thought-provoking lyrics.  "Save Me", which just happens to be the next track on the album, is a perfect example of this.  Many bands can throw together a techno-laiden dance track at about 145 bpm, but these are listener friendly as well, so you can listen to them anywhere and the vocal talents are commendable as well as the excellent lyrical content.  The overall variety on the album is nice, not so much that the listener feels lost and torn apart, but enough to not grow bored trying to listen to the entire album.  These are all great qualities that make up a great album of this style and this band pulls it off well with this work.

As the album moves on we'll find plenty of examples to support the positive comments received not only here but by press around the world.  "Life" presents us with two seeming contradictory atmospheres in one song, but blends so well it's incredible.  At one moment we're in a heavy, brooding atmosphere with deep vocals and monotonously droning synths and moving beat, then the next we're moving through a melodic atmosphere in both music and vocals.  This trick is also used many times throughout the album which provides for a great touch and a break from the monotony.  The titles of the tracks follow in something of a list of what would describe the overall thematic approach from these artists moving from "Save Me", "Life", "Love", "Death", "Despair", "Guide Me Home", "Embrace", "Haunted" and finally closing with "Ascension".  Each piece is an incredible work of art.  "Love" brings the intensity and tempo down a bit, but the charged emotions are thick on this beautiful piece through layered harmonized vocals that are breathtaking.

At this point we're brought to "Death" which isn't as heavy and brooding as you might expect, but this short instrumental piece is definitely stark and the most experimental piece on the album... a nice interlude in many ways.  This leads us on to "Despair", which again would seem to be something of a dark piece, but the music picks you up and starts you moving.  This continues on and pushes right into "Hope", which describes this track perfectly.  If ever there were a beautiful track in the electronic music genres, this is probably one of the most remarkable pieces I've heard along these lines.&bnsp; It starts out with a beautiful piano and symphonic introduction which slowly builds into an ambient, dreamy synthpop piece with very few lyrics making it mostly an instrumental track.  "Guid Me Home" drifts off into something of a slower piece again with some nice piano and strings providing the backdrop for Jordan's vocals carried on a steady mid-tempo beat.  "Embrace" is probably the hardest hitting piece on the album, although this is really only brought out after the first structured verse gives way to the powerful chorus and the deep, haunting vocals portray the message within.  It would seem that the overall style of "Embrace" and "Haunted" were switched in the album mixing process. While "Embrace" is heavy and dark, "Haunted" is full of light and melodic.  This brings us to the finale of the album through the title track "Ascension".  This piece slowly builds and continues to constantly build throughout until we're brought to the captivating phrase "we long to let go of hate and sorrow" repeated off and on through Jordan's layered and harmonized vocals.  This last track as it builds and finally comes to an end is mesmerizing and really portrays the raw talent and awesome potential this group has.

Well I don't think there's any more I can add to that.  Once again this duo has captured my ear and heart with their music on this album.  I hope many readers and listeners will feel the same and definitely check this group out.

Rating: 5/5

Website: www.resurrectioneve.com
Label: Endless Records

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