autumnal soundscapes: Star Of Ash

Sometimes music just doesn’t work out immediately… It was back in early 2008 when I stumbled across “The Thread” initially, listened to the album quite a few times, but didn’t manage to really get something off the sounds featured on this album by Star Of Ash, one of the projects of Norwegian musician / singer Ihriel. By now, came across this album a second time in early autumn days somehow managed to leave a different impression, for some reasons:

Overally, listening to it once again having some time passed, the music on “The Thread” appears to be rather ambitious to say the very least. Extending the limited definition of the term “ambient music” usually (for whichever reasons) applied to mainly electronic downtempo music, Star Of Ash manages to create a versatile acoustic experience, making use of a wide range of instruments, arrangements and melody lines resembling early Mike Oldfield releases (“Amarok”, “Hergest Ridge”), more melancholic art/indie rock rooted music (a bit of Sophia maybe) or the moody, bizarre, mind-bending soundtracks Angelo Badalamenti contributed to a set of David Lynch movies, all along. This way of not being limited to a given genre or instrumental appearance in itself is what makes this album rather interesting.

On the other side, all musical ideas and creativity aside, the record itself mainly seems about painting pictures, creating ambience rather than “just” songs. And thus, “The Thread” surely does well being a soundtrack to some (imaginary?) movie, taken in black and white, coarse-grained pictures, or the dark sepia / earth tones of autumn, calm in some moments, intense and thoughtful in others, travelling up and down an emotional wave creating pictures in ones mind just the same – given you take the time, of course. And so, in the end, “The Thread” of course works out rather well, as an album best to be listened to using a pair of modest headphones and the right time and mood to be able and willing to really dive into the music. Rather inspiring indeed, the only thing I eventually would like to see as an improvement in Star Of Ash releases to follow is an increase of the vocal parts: The few songs on “The Thread” actually containing sung lyrics surely show it would be worth it, no matter whether using (male/female) guest vocals or featuring the pretty strong vocals of Ihriel herself. Strongly recommended anyhow.

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