I can’t rightfully convey to you how excited I am to be running this post; Ancestors are one of my all time favorite bands. I found them back in 2012, when I was still doing night shifts. I would have YouTube open and just trawl through the related videos, looking for bands to grab my attention. This was before I was writing for the blog so I hadn’t yet been inducted into the horrors and wonders of the inbox. I remember the specific night shift: I had started to go through some heavier doom bands when suddenly, In Dreams and Time started playing. I was absolutely speechless, especially once “First Light” had ushered out the album. I had no one to share my excitement with since everyone else was asleep; I was giddy and I listened to the album two more times in a row.
Later, I discovered with fear that the band was silent but about a year and a half ago they started making noise online again. I was beyond stoked; by that time, I had listened to all of the band’s work countless time (especially the magnificent Invisible White EP) and was hungry for more. And boy did Ancestors deliver; their upcoming Suspended in Reflections is amazing. But we’ll take more about that album later, since my review is going live today. For now, you can head on over here to get a taste of it and pre-order it. And while you do, we have a very special and unique The Anatomy Of post for you. It happens to feature one of my other all time favorite albums and a bunch of other amazing picks straight from the mouth of Justin Maranga, the guitarist and vocalist for the band (one of them, at least). So head on over to the jump to get acquainted with what makes one of the best progressive doom bands tick and, for the love of god, listen to Ancestors.
I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how to approach this. As we’ve ambled through the past 12 years as a band, “influences” have become more and more tenuous. Inspiration is probably a more apt word at this point, and there is so much inspiring material out there that it’s near impossible to cull it down! There is so much amazing music! So here’s the approach for today:
Something old, something new, something borrowed and something black.
Something Old: TALK TALK – SPIRIT OF EDEN
It’s almost insulting to call this old, but it did come out in 1988 (I was 5). Also, their follow up (and final album), Laughing Stock as well as Mark Hollis’ 1998 solo album should probably be included here too. Nothing else like this has ever existed (though if you like this and haven’t heard the band Bark Psychosis, stop reading and put that on right now). Equal parts avant-pop, jazz and ambient, without being any of those things at all, this is musical experimentation at its most refined. Talk Talk had been churning out pop hits since 1982 when they decided to do a complete about face and release this masterpiece, which they had no intention of touring behind or ever performing live. Their label had to be like “uhhh wut,” but they clearly didn’t give a fuck. And that’s what it’s all about.
Something New: ULVER – THE ASSASSINATION OF JULIUS CAESAR
I discovered Ulver when I was in college, perusing black metal on Audiogalaxy (remember that one?). When I encountered Bergtatt, I knew I’d found something special. I immediately devoured their black metal catalog (two whole albums, a single and a demo — 3 albums if you count the chanty Norwegian folk-influenced Kveldssanger). For whatever reason, I skipped over the William Blake one, and I was caught waaaay off guard when I hit Perdition City, a fascinating industrial and dark ambient masterpiece. Anyway, that was in 2001, and I’ve followed the ebb and flow Ulver’s career ever since, never knowing what to expect, and certainly never pigeonholing their output. Somehow this album still surprised me. Ulver gone dark pop? Something like that. Inflections of pop, rock, industrial, noise, trip-hop, gospel… fuck. I’m just going to say it: it’s their best album. I regularly listen to it twice in a row. And then I wish I’d been involved in making it. And the production!!!
Something Borrowed: PINK FLOYD – ANIMALS
Why is this something borrowed? Because we’ve “borrowed” a whole lot from Pink Floyd and we’re probably not going to stop. Influence? Check. I could have picked any Floyd album and been satisfied, but I’ve been listening to Animals a lot lately. Especially after catching that last Roger Waters tour. This album is perfect. Catchy songs that are in no rush to get anywhere, perfect pacing, incredible melodies, poignant and still VERY relevant lyrics; and of course David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason. I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing I can say about this that hasn’t been said a million times before by folks more eloquent than I.
Something Black: THE BLACK HEART PROCESSION – 2 & 3
Jason and I discussed this and we couldn’t decide between the second and third The Black Heart Procession albums. But, since it’s near impossible to listen to one without immediately going into the other, I’m just putting them as one. BHP was formed after the dissolution of another incredible San Diego band, Three Mile Pilot. The first album (aptly titled 1) was a real game changer for me. I realized how much atmosphere could be created with minimal instrumentation. By their second and third albums, the band had settled into a sound that was folky and Americana-inspired while remaining utterly stark, atmospheric and consuming. Plus, they managed to work the word “heart” into the lyrics for almost every song. Can’t fuck with that!