Tonefloat Rec. The Use Of Ashes : White Nights -the hand of Tzafkiël- -LP- (NL,2008)****
Like the group assured me, Use Of Ashes today in essence indeed is not really different from how they started. For me their earliest two albums (once reissued on cd on a Japanese label, -I was happy to have found it-) sounded a little bit like Legendary Pinkdots with Edward Ka-Spel at its most acoustic and delicate. Oddly enough both groups were residing in Nijmeghen at that time, and also knew each other since the start (I once asked Edward Ka-Spel about it). This early Use Of Ashes compilation used to be one of my all-time favourite albums for a very long time (-for the moment I can’t really tell any more what to decide-). It is in fact a shame that so far I didn’t even mention it on my webpages since I have started to build them. How was this sound ? Like the sound of nature, with the dooms of thunders, and the awakening frogs, with delicate acoustic guitars and a soft voice, keyboards that were build with a richness of what mellotron with acoustic guitars usually do to your listening experience...
And I also remembered how I found it amusing to see how one person of the trio was dressed like a punk, and this while making such beautiful delicate music...
“The use of Ashes” could have inhabited something of an association with the 60s Pearls Before Swine’s music (and song) original approach, in a newer context, and different world. On this album, the first song is referring to their group’s name, while making it like a sad next chapter introduction with their name. The nature has become a city. It’s quiteness is more frightening, with its own comparable form of silence and beauty.
-I once had a conversation with a friend about alternative people tending to fall back on the idea that people are worse and nature is better, (-I saw the photo in the newspaper of an old acquaintance who died recently while having eaten a wrong plant after having withdrawn himself with his girlfriend in a forest-), while I said in that context of people saying this that the nature of nature isn’t really so different at all from the human nature. Only certain varied good circumstances make a beautiful complex variety in nature or in situations possible, while monotone and limited circumstances makes the survival of the fittest stronger, so that only one plant or species will survive, and all others species are in danger. Nature is everywhere the same. And that nature and its possibilities is also what we could see and express.
Also for the Use of Ashes, dark and gray, the now slightly urbanized delicate spheres are still there, as well as the nylon 12-string guitars and keyboards.
“Dongel Taleteller” uses small vocoder-effects or something similar, more subtly as I have ever heard this. The next instrumental track is more hypnotic and deeply brooding with keyboards, guitars and Psalter. Then distant bowls and double acoustic string guitars pickings lead the next song. This is followed by extremely quiet breathing sounds and music, dark and beautiful, like a deserted lake, before cello breaths life out of the situation, leading to some rich keyboard choral harmonies (reminiscent to some Popul Vuh’s choral richness), before ending the first side with a beautiful harmonious acoustic song. Also the second side gives a couple of variations of quietness, with whispery soft baritone songs accompanied by multiple acoustic guitars, and accents of Psalter, or by moody passages with with dark and slow double bass and bowed Psalter or subtle keyboards.
With this very successful album I became curious about all the other works by the band. (Most of them are still more electronic I think). Their label also released two brilliant Sand Snowman album just recently (reviewed on next page).