US - Nebraska - Full Moon 103 - 02/24/05
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
Conor Oberst's second go in his double bill of the year. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is the fully orchestrated, sometimes electronically rhythmed (programming, samples) album showing Bright Eyes from their most expressive and ambitious side. Digi...Digi... is big, it's grandiose, it's prestigious, yes even stepping into pompous territory. And it doesn't matter, because it's working quite good. Don't believe most of the critics telling something else.
Most reviews I've seen of Bright Eyes' pair of albums seem to prefer I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and to almost dismiss Digital.... Almost. Saying the latter to be Conor Oberst's experimental trip putting experiments over content. I disagree and find the album highly amusing. Exciting, thrilling and appealing, but not without the "trademark" Bright Eyes underlaying (sometimes almost overwhelming) despair. I think Digital... is as good as ...Awake..., but they're so different (yet similar, no surprise - after all it's the same young man who's written the 22 songs of the two albums alltogether). Where ...Awake... sounds serious and mature, Digital... is more playful and young at heart. Where the songs might be stronger on Awake the funny twists (rhythms and sounds) on Digital.. bloom. Some favorite songs: "Down In A Rabbit Hole", "Devil In The Details" (with a guitar solo pulled off a mid80s Tom Waits song), "Light Pollution", and of course the single "Take It easy (Love Nothing)". But, the album would have been a better one with, say, two-three songs cut out.
So, Conor Oberst, 24 years old. Said to be a genius several times over the last years. Will he keep on pouring out records or will his well of creativity run a bit dry? Is he a depressed, shy-boy Bowie for the digital age? By releasing two different albums this year he might have presented more of his chameleon-like personality. Or could it just be plain musical scizophrenia. Fact is he's been recording for more than 10 years, he's put out six albums and several EPs under the Bright Eyes moniker (after being part of and recording with Commander Venus, The Magnetas, Park Ave, and Desaparecidos over the years).
The 'orchestra' (musicians joining in on this album as well as I'm Wide Awake...) includes a lot of names from other Saddle Creek outfits, plus other guests such as Jason Boesel (of Rilo Kiley), Nick White (of Tilly And The Wall - Conor Oberst sat in and co-produced their debut album), Nick Zinner (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Jimmy Tamborello (of The Postal Service), multi-instrumentalist and producer Mike Mogis (who's been Conor Oberst's longtime producer), Matt Maginn (of Cursive), Clay Leverett and Andy LeMaster (of Now Itís Overhead),
former The Good Life member Jiha Lee, Maria Taylor of Azure Ray, Clark Beachle (of The Faint), plus others.
Distribution in Norway: Tuba!
Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen