Ascent, Secrets of Flight

Varied soundscapes of electronic and classical instrumentation is the crux of Ascent. The fulcrum of their tracks is that place where the natural meets the created; where the organic and the electronic meld. Fitting for the husband and wife duo, with the natural vocal prowess of Christina and the prog rock leanings and vast musicality of Bruce. Their sophomore release, Secrets of Flight, follows much in the same vein as the prior with expounded electronically generated clicks and clanks, beeps and blips and effects-laden instrumentation, all-sharing time and space with a straightforward vocal delivery.

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The album opens thematically to “Ascension” with electronic backing notes as foundation to a steady chug of electric strums. The lyrical matter is dreamy and ethereal piped through Christina’s tight vocal delivery. Featuring multiple time changes and refrains that lead to what the listener thinks is the song end before launching into a bass, electronic lead and effects midpoint before a complete return to the original melody. This one is rife with complexity. “Adaptation” is the most autobiographical track on the album and is a lyrical storyboard of the relationship between the husband and wife duo. While it follows the previous track in much of the instrumentation, the pair stepped back from the electronically generated ambiance in favor of standard four-piece musicality–with bass and drums keeping time and lead and vocals at the forefront. The track ethos is to allow the lyrics to shine and their message to come through. Acoustic is the bandleader on the heavily progressive “Talking In Circles.” The constant chord progression shares the lead with the vocal delivery with slight percussion bringing up the rear. The scope of Bruce’s musicality is a highlight with a midpoint acoustic solo in the vein of Spanish guitar. More acoustic chord progression is the hallmark of “What the Crows Know” with a slightly haunting melody through the opening verses bolstered by eerie backing keys. Layers of soundscapes wax and wane on this track with Christina’s effects harmonized vocals and percussion stripped to bare bones bongos.    

The shiniest facet of Ascent is their ambition. Even in their most simplistic moments; the musicality and instrumentation is vast and the songs are technical and complex. Varied time changes and progressions abound through the tracks, at times to almost a fault.

While the vision of the music is impressive it makes one wonder if the pair are writing music that may be too much for a duo. It seems during certain moments that it would behoove them to have a third member if not only for a different set of ears and an extra set of hands. While not to a point of a cacophony; this is A LOT of music and for that I give high marks.  

by Chris West –

[Rating: 3.5/5]

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