Unruh, Steve - Out Of The Ashes

Year of Release: 2004
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:09:00

I didn't really think I'd ever mention King Crimson in connection with Steve Unruh (or if I have, I've forgotten it), but on the darker Out Of The Ashes release, that's exactly what I thought of with the "Battle/Aftermath" section of "Out Of The Ashes," the suite that opens the album. As Unruh writes in the liner notes, he's angry - at a litany of things that ought to anger, if not all, certainly a large number of us - us being human beings. And those that aren't angered ... probably don't listen to progressive music either... being preoccupied by whatever makes them "not angry" at... well, what Unruh writes, in part, "I'm angry that people fly planes into buildings. I'm angry at the violence-begets-violence response of the victims' representatives. I'm angry that 'being an American' brands me a target. I'm angry that 'being an American' additionally brands me responsible for bodies shredded in response to that target status..." Somewhere humanity went off the rails...

Out Of The Ashes is a dark release that sometimes lashes out with metallic fury... cuts with an angularity ... churns with a sometimes smoldering, sometimes raging flame of ... well, you get the picture. In this boiling, roiling mix we get distorted guitars, throbbing bass, booming drums ... quite heavy for a progressive folk artist... and quite progressive for a progressive folk artist.

Comparisons I've made before I'll make again - Kevin Gilbert, Morse-era Spock's Beard ... here not necessarily musically (except a bit on track four), but certainly in a lyrical way ... nevermind that Unruh sounds like Gilbert. The folkiness of Unruh's music is present in the mellower guitar textures, the use of violin, but oh so much more fiery.

Just to even the mood out, we get the jazzy ballad of "Slowly As The Lights Go Down." We get just acoustic guitar and voice, sweet but not sugary and so very classy. You will think of jazz of the 40s and 50s... the jazz of Sinatra and Holliday... recalling, to me at least, "As Time Goes By" (at least how I remember that piece) ... though the date of that may be off... this is that kind of piece.

The final track is not listed, but serves as a melancholy coda... a sad violin sweetly sings in dark, reddish tones. Says Unruh at his website, "The violin/drumkit solo (unlisted track at the end of the CD) was recorded live to 2 ambient mics at a Psynapsis gig. Much use was made of my favorite live effect, the Roland RC-20 loopstation." The drums come in later, snare mostly giving an almost militaristic feel (and in keeping with the theme)... as the rhythm changes, backing off the snare, we get quite a lively drum solo - less about "look at me" and more about "saying something" with the solo.

Out Of The Ashes is a different sort of release from Unruh and that's a good thing. It shows not only an artist willing to take chances - which happens so rarely in music nowadays such that we get the same album over and over with a new name - but one not afraid to let passion and emotion suffuse the music. All this while not losing any of the intimate, "in your livingroom" feel of his other works. Recommended.

Out Of The Ashes: I. Miracle Mile - II. Battle/Aftermath - III. Breaking Free (40:39) / Slowly As The Light Go Down (5:06) / [untitled] (6:24)

Steve Unruh - vocals, acoustic, electric, classical, and electric classical guitars, electric bass (5-string), acoustic drumkit & misc. percussion, acoustic & electric violin, flute, and a little electronic percussion & synth

Sign Of Saturn - Sign Of Saturn (1996)
Believe? (1997)
The Beginning Of A New Day (1998)
Egeria Jazz Trio - Egeria Jazz Trio (2000)
The Dayfly - Album (2000)
DT & BW Records Sampler (2001)
Two Little Awakenings (2001)
Invisible Symphony (2002)
Out Of The Ashes (2004)
Instrumental Retrospective (2004)
Song To The Sky (2005)
The Great Divide (2007)
Songs From The Flowered Chair (2008)
Challenging Gravity (2010)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin US

Added: August 29th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.steveunruh.com
Hits: 1251
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]