How Bright Eyes Experimented with Electronica on Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
In 2005, Bright Eyes released two albums on the same day: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. While the former was a folk-inspired acoustic record, the latter was a daring departure into electronica, synth-pop and experimental sounds. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn showcased the versatility and creativity of Bright Eyes, led by singer-songwriter Conor Oberst.
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn was influenced by Oberst's collaboration with Jimmy Tamborello of The Postal Service, who contributed drum programming to the album. The album also featured guest appearances from Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Maria Taylor of Azure Ray, and Jiha Lee of The Good Life. The album was produced by Bright Eyes and Mike Mogis, who added guitar, baritone horn, theremin and other instruments to the mix.
The album's title refers to the idea of preserving one's identity and memories in a digital format after death. The album explores themes of mortality, love, loneliness and technology through Oberst's poetic lyrics and emotive vocals. The album also experiments with different genres and styles, from the upbeat pop of \"Gold Mine Gutted\" and \"Take It Easy (Love Nothing)\" to the dark and atmospheric \"Hit the Switch\" and \"Easy/Lucky/Free\". The album also features orchestral arrangements by Nate Walcott on some tracks, such as \"Down in a Rabbit Hole\" and \"I Believe in Symmetry\".
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its ambition but criticized its inconsistency. The album peaked at number 15 on the US Billboard 200 chart and number 43 on the UK Albums Chart. It sold 268,000 units in the US and was certified gold by the Independent Music Companies Association in Europe. The album spawned three singles: \"Take It Easy (Love Nothing)\", \"Easy/Lucky/Free\" and \"Gold Mine Gutted\". In 2022, the album was reissued by Dead Oceans alongside a six-track companion EP.
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is a unique and adventurous album that showcases Bright Eyes' willingness to explore new sonic territories. It is an album that deserves to be revisited and appreciated for its originality and innovation.
A Track by Track Review of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn
Let's take a closer look at each track of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and see how Bright Eyes experimented with electronica on this album.
Time Code: The album opens with a minimalist instrumental track that sets the tone for the electronic soundscape. A pulsing beat, a sampled voice and a wurlitzer piano create a hypnotic mood that contrasts with Oberst's usual acoustic guitar.
Gold Mine Gutted: The first single from the album is a catchy pop song that features Oberst's trademark wordplay and imagery. He sings about a failed relationship and a lost sense of self over a synth-pop backdrop that includes guitar, baritone horn and theremin.
Arc of Time (Time Code): This track continues the theme of time and mortality that runs throughout the album. Oberst reflects on his life and legacy over a simple melody played by wurlitzer and guitar. He also adds a baritone horn to create a mournful sound.
Down in a Rabbit Hole: This track is one of the most orchestral on the album, featuring strings arranged by Nate Walcott. Oberst sings about escaping reality and falling into a fantasy world, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He is joined by Maria Taylor on backing vocals and Nick Zinner on guitar and keyboards.
Take It Easy (Love Nothing): The second single from the album is another pop song that showcases Oberst's collaboration with Jimmy Tamborello. The song is about a casual fling that turns sour, with Oberst expressing his bitterness and regret over a bouncy beat and catchy chorus.
Hit the Switch: This track is one of the darkest and most atmospheric on the album, featuring a variety of instruments and sounds. Oberst sings about his depression and suicidal thoughts over a gloomy arrangement that includes bass, guitar, keyboards, flute, harp and timpani.
I Believe in Symmetry: This track is another orchestral piece that features strings by Nate Walcott. Oberst sings about his search for meaning and balance in life over a dramatic composition that includes bass, guitar, keyboards, drums and percussion.
Devil in the Details: This track is a quirky and playful song that features Oberst's humorous side. He sings about his misadventures and mistakes over a whimsical arrangement that includes guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion and sound effects.
Ship in a Bottle: This track is a tender and intimate ballad that features Oberst's acoustic guitar and vocals. He sings about his loneliness and isolation over a sparse accompaniment that includes electric piano, guitar and backing vocals.
Light Pollution: This track is a short and upbeat song that features Oberst's social commentary. He sings about the environmental and cultural effects of urbanization over a lively arrangement that includes guitar, keyboards, drums and percussion.
Theme to PiÃata: This track is an instrumental interlude that features Oberst's experimentation with sound collage. He creates a festive mood by mixing various samples, noises and voices over a Latin-inspired rhythm.
Easy/Lucky/Free: The third single from the album is also the closing track. It is an epic and anthemic song that features Oberst's optimistic outlook on life. He sings about overcoming his fears and finding happiness over a grand arrangement that includes guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion, strings and choir.
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is an album that challenges and rewards the listener with its diverse and inventive songs. It is an album that proves that Bright Eyes can transcend genres and expectations with their musical vision. ec8f644aee