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  • Writer's pictureAlex Court

New Album 'Ascension' By Rob Massard

There’s a whole lot of climate change discussion and mourning over the earth’s current state going on during Bob Massard’s album, Ascension. However, its title, Ascension, refers to the act or process of

ascending. It often refers to the Biblical account of Jesus ascending up into heaven, after being resurrected and ending His earthly ministry. Much of this music is pained, New Age-leaning sounds. Perhaps, Massard believes humans can – with much effort – rise from its environmental sins and save the earth. Maybe we’re not entirely hopeless.

One of these songs (“Don’t Cha Know”) gets right to the point with Massard stating, “Calling on the human race,” as though he was the captain of this off-course earthly ship. On it, Massard also sings about “sheltering in place,” which seemingly refers back to the covid pandemic. It sounds like there are plenty of human problems rolling around in Massard’s mind while he was creating this and other songs on the album. This epic opus lasts a full 8:16, and – in addition to its yearning vocal – also includes large, orchestrated sections. In fact, it is the longest cut on the album. And that’s really saying something, as there are a couple that others extend to over seven minutes on the 10-track release. The album is forty-nine minutes total.

While these tracks are long and prog rocky much of the time, one instrumental (“Fireside Stomp”) differs from the pack with its upbeat, acoustic guitar strumming and fluid, jazzy bass work. The listener can

even hear the sound of a bonfire burning on it. Acoustic guitar returns to the sonic center again with “Slip Away.” It’s much gentler than “Fireside Stomp,” and goes slower – like a folk song. It finds Massard

reaching out to Mother Nature. He’s begging Mother Nature to not let earth slip away. “Blood on our watch/Blood on our hands,” sings Massard, in decrying human behave so badly. When he sings “Home of the brave/Land of the free,” it’s clear Massard is pointing his finger directly at the United States and its environmental sins.

One titled “Stars To Your Moon” is literally spacey, as it seemingly finds Massard traveling through space. With its languid sound, it has the feel of a Moody Blues track. It includes some vibe-y synthesizer

sections, as well as consistent orchestration.

During “Maybe I,” Massard sings, “Maybe I’m a sailor/Maybe I’m lost at sea.” He goes on to explore different roles he may or may not be playing in his life. Certainly, today’s climate change climate is serving to make him feel decidedly on the lost side. When the world seems to be going in the wrong direction, it can make a guy feel out of his element.

The album closes with an ambient, moody piece – only 1:07 long – titled “To Live And Breathe Under Water.” It’s a pretty, instrumental way to close out an album that features so many pointedly social/political lyrics. Ultimately, it’s an album that will challenge you, whether you agree with Massard’s assessment of the world’s current state or not. This is music with a purpose, and Rob Massard should be commended for making purposeful songs. Let’s hope ascension is in humankind’s future because the opposite direction is just too troubling to even consider.

-Dan MacIntosh


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