Track By Track : Ascending Dawn - Coalesce

By John A. Wilcox

I first became aware of Ascending Dawn via their dynamic vocalist Marlain Angelides. Angelides also delivers amazing vocals as part of the band Lez Zeppelin, so my interest was piqued. Ascending Dawn give us prog with a metal wallop and an ambient spice on the side. Angelides also offers a suggestion for experiencing this album: "Coalesce is meant to be listened to in one, as most songs move or blend into the next." Got it? Good! Let's all go track by track...

Track 1: All In Now
MA: I wrote this song after watching myself censoring how I would portray myself online on social media. I found it tremendously frustrating that there was an increased pressure on ourselves to have an 'online' presence so that we can be counted as part of this world. My idealistic spiritual self just wants it all to be easy and everyone to be accepted. As one of the 'heavier' tracks I wanted to make sure that there was weight involved in this one.

Track 2: Miscommunication
MA: I had just had another fight where I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong. And figured that it was never a singular person's fault, and more about how we perceive what the other is saying. How things can be misconstrued, how we can convey our feelings and have them misunderstood. A lot of Coalesce is about my own struggle with self blame. It is also my favourite song with regards to vocal arrangement and hidden harmonies in the backing vocals.

Track 3: Cannonball
MA: Well, this one has a special place as it was the first Ascending Dawn song written to completion. It defined how the album was going to be written. The way you hear it, is how it came out. No changes were made to the melodies or harmonies. It was my 'audition'. Perhaps it is the most commercially accessible track on the album. And it is written in 6/8 which for some reason is my favorite time signature! Cannonball

Track 4: Integral
MA: Funnily enough there is always one that you do not feel is your strongest contribution. This was it for me. I had sent this off to the guys and said, 'I'm not sure', tell me what you feel about it. And they all came back with 'We love it as is'. It is also a fan favourite, so this goes to show how we are very subjective with our own material!

Track 5: Opposites
MA: In opposition to 'Integral', this one became my favourite, especially after Jochem got his hands on it. When people ask me to play one song which showcases the project, I play this one. It combines the prog element with most of the song being in 5, a lot of ambient elements combined with heavy riffs and developing harmonies. In addition it has an expanding chorus where the second chorus has more vocal lines added, giving it an additional hook and the final chorus has a whole new melody which relates to the first two. Jochem really brought these out to perfection. It has the simplest lyrics, and now with the addition of the video has an added element of depth of meaning. Opposites

Track 6: Simplify
MA: Ah! This is one went through a bit of a modification. Originally, it had a more prominent backing vocal melody idea throughout the choruses. It was decided though during mixing that those additional elements were too layered for the overall album. Because of this, I recently recorded a studio 'live vocal video' of this song, with the original ideas in play and brought forward. It is currently in edit, and will hopefully be released soon. The lead vocal has a slight 'world music' element, and because of my Greek side, I felt it important to bring that out!

Track 7: Inside The Silence
MA: Our most 'prog' song. Funnily enough, as this happens with some prog songs, everyone has different counts for the sections. When I was trying to write the vocals for this, I had asked the guys to send me their counts for it and I received three different versions! In the end, I found what worked for me and ended up crossing bar lines with melodies more often than not. I was also inspired to bring out the darker qualities of my voice and loved the idea of octaves being a feature. When we decided to release this as a lyric video, some of the hidden messages in the song came out. Inside The Silence

Track 8: Opaque
MA: The guys, Owen and Mark, who by personality do not like to be in the forefront, or want to be singled out, felt strongly about keeping one song instrumental. At first I didn't understand why, but once I heard the album in its entirety I felt that Opaque was a perfect addition to the album soundscape, as the vocals are very prominent in our sound overall.

Track 9: Indiscretion
MA: Perhaps, lyrically the darkest song of all. At the time I was not fully consciously aware of what I was writing about. But this year, with the #MeToo campaign, it became clear. It is about the stuff we as women don't know how to express, the pressures we are under to endure conditions we may not fully want, just so that we can move forward. Musically, it was also one song which does not end with a chorus, but an open ended repeated outro. Which felt like the perfect ending for the album experience.


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