While it is my policy to not review music that is lyric-based, now and then I get albums where the vocals take on the role more as wordless instrument, and whatever lyrics are there melt into the mix. I can’t say I always follow the words on Amy Faithe’s The Ascent, but neither do I think I need to as I go deeper into the mix of her delicately powerful, silky voice and flowing (if by the numbers) spacemusic architecture. By the time I get to the end of the ten-minute opening track, “Moments,” I have long since stopped thinking that this is not technically Hypnagogue material; I am thinking, this woman has a gorgeous voice and I’m just going to enjoy it. Faithe’s range is impressive, and every note is simply smooth and rich and commands attention. As a listener, given my own personal preferences, here and there I briefly get stuck on the overt New Age trappings, like the waves and birdsong backing “Serenity’s Call,” but contextually, they’re spot on. To that track’s credit, listen to what Faithe is able to create out of a virtually unchanging droning undertone, her vocal explorations, and those field sounds. That’s the kind of realization I’ve come to while listening to this that let me set my biases aside and just dig in. “Peace Be Mine” comparatively ups the energy ante with a pulsing bass tone. I can’t tell you by what percent Faithe’s plaintive vocals are slower than the pulse here as she sings a prayer/chant, but they weave together perfectly. While the music supporting Faithe’s voice is not richly original—it’s mostly spacey drones that go on forever—it’s not really the focus of the album. It’s decent set dressing, and it does its job supporting Faithe’s vocals, but all I need is that voice.
The Ascent is an album I have come to prefer mixed in with other music, but I’ve also put it on as a low-volume listen many times and let it run. The music is unobtrusive, and Faithe’s voice simply rises up and fills the space. You get a little bit of prayer and a whole lot of mind-quieting beauty in one go. New Age fans will scoop this up and love it, and it’s well worth checking out even if you think it’s outside of your usual listening sphere. Amy Faithe’s voice will transcend your expectations.
Available at CD Baby.