Empire to Ashes is a new ambient / post-rock / alternative electronica project of Jamie Denton, a former member and bassist of the now disbanded New Zealand five-piece Poison Skies (who I loved and featured a year ago on this blog, which you can read here). So far, Empire to Ashes has been a solo project, but Jamie states that it may possibly end up as a collaborative project with other New Zealand musicians at some point in the future.
Through his music, Jamie explained that his aim is “to explore how far melodies can be bent or removed before they break.” He added that his “project is designed to produce questions, not answers.” And after listening to his debut single “My Own Phantom Limb,” which dropped today, I would attest that he fulfills his objective. The nearly six-minute long track takes us on a journey into a gorgeous soundscape of moody synths that chime and soar.
The track opens with what sounds like distorted, static-filled voices coming from a radio not fully tuned into a station, then chiming synths wash over us as Jamie’s otherworldly spoken word vocals enter the picture. His expertise as a bassist comes into play as he lays down a heavy throbbing bass line that gives the track weight, sharply contrasting with the airy synth chords. A hypnotic drumbeat settles in as the synths begin to soar, while a simple piano riff weaves in and out. Along the way, we hear sounds of gentle winds blowing. As the music fades, the song comes full circle, ending with a repeat of the static-filled voices.
The equally gorgeous and compelling video includes footage of frenetic urban life interwoven with calm scenes of nature, such as a forest with falling snow, and sunsets. Halfway through, a woman is shown sleeping, curled up in a fetal position on a bed of fresh snow, as the shadow of a person’s hands move over her as if to shield her from the elements. The imagery then returns to scenes of nature and the city which continue through to the end of the video.