06.18.16Empty Streets Released!
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Click, play and indulge in a rock, ska inspired, altrock gem for 3 minutes and 43 seconds! Empty Streets is here!
06.18.16The Making of Empty Streets!
Bruce details the creation and recording process, equipment, and much more!
The making of Empty Streets ...
02.25.13PRESS: "Music with Depth and Soul" by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-Founder MuzikReviews.com
You know the old saying "It takes two to tango" well never is that more relevant than with the music of the dynamic duo called Ascent.
Thier biography certainly speaks of the truth and the music is not the cookie cutter pop garbage that is raking in the millions of dollars these days. This is music with depth and soul.
Christina and Bruce Baldwin are Ascent and they bring a fresh new take on music with something different offered in every track. The combination of rock, alternative and progressive give the listener enough variety that it sets some anticipation of what is to come next. If any music has that kind of magic for this listener, you have me hooked. Check them out you will soon agree.
10.15.12PRESS: "Secrets of Flight" Equal Parts Light and Darkness by Douglas Lentes
Ascent is one of those bands that, seems to blend many things that would seem to be very dissimilar such as hope and despair, rock and jazz, or love and pain into a frothy mix that just works. It might be because the two individuals of the band Bruce and Christina Baldwin are not just band members but a long term couple that makes it come together so well but whatever it might be I like it. This shines forth on tracks like Adaptation which tells the story of how life and love grows and changes throughout the years. The band also expands their reach to speak about the things they see in the world that are wrong like the track talking in Circles which talks about how the world is full of people who only talk but never listen. All this depth to the lyrics does not stop the CD from being a great listen which can be enjoyed on a many levels. Overall the album is a must have for people who like their melodies and lyrics enriched with equal parts light and darkness.
09.14.12PRESS: "Secrets of Flight" Review by Keith Chachkes
Submitted for your approval…. a husband an wife duo making music under a vague moniker, collecting a disparate bunch of influences and somehow making it all work. That is what you get when you peel back the lid on Secrets of Flight by ASCENT.
Hailing from LA husband and wife team of Christina and Bruce Baldwin take the attention away from them selves directly with the clever name and an even more clever musical palate. Their adventurousness and ability brings everything together lock tight, and still leaves room for pop catchyness.
I miss the old days (the 1980s) when a band had a song named after themselves and it was often the best song they had or it was their only good song at times. “Ascension" almost does the trick as a very strong lead track with electronics, a cool beat and Christina’s sultry vocals. “Ascension" takes a few turns stylistically and lands at an upbeat, urgent pop rock song.
“Adaptation" has a cool bass line and even cooler lyrics. Christina doubles her own melodies here to great effect. The chorus is a little light for my tastes, but I like the risk of contrasting the darker sown verses with the musical ear candy.
“Talking In Circles" is a real surprise track. The beat is like a Bangra-influenced Trip-Hop trance, but the guitar lines have a Middle-Eastern slickness that is really impressive. U2 has been trying to copy this style for years and couldn’t do it as well.
The outro of the song has a terrific percussion heavy vibe going on. Although the musical backdrop is solid, Christina really shines when she hangs herself out there vocally. She’s very creative in her melodic choices on cuts like “Vacancy", “Independence" and “Indigo". She really has a lot of sass and charisma too, which just adds to the fuel of these tracks.
“Act of Grace" was my favorite track with its ethereal mood and beautiful piano parts. When the duo falls into the strict balladry of “Hiding from Reality", I found myself less moved. Making up for that is the epic closing song “Descent" (clever, again). When they mix all of these different elements (spoken word, goth, industrial, capoeria, prog, rap) into a fun, digital stew and let Christina work her magic- that is truly when ASCENT is at their zenith.
08.23.12PRESS: "Secrets of Flight" Review by James McQuiston, NeuFutur Magazine Editor
"Ascent provides a musically intense and a lyrically dense sound for their listeners."
"Ascension keeps things interesting through a space-rock frame. Throw in a ropy, catchy bass line and what results is a twinkling track that will stick with listeners long after the CD stops."
"Talking In Circles speeds things up nicely, soaring on a middle eastern / Indian groove. The echoing vocals resonate deeply as the instrumentation continues to speed. While a great many bands would peter out after the four minute mark, Ascent is able to pound through to five minutes."
"Secrets of Flight is incredibly diverse in the overall styles that are provided; the band is able to unite all these disparate pieces into one cohesive and compelling whole."
"Secrets of Flight never peters; the 11 cuts here provide a tremendous look into an up and coming act."
08.16.12PRESS: 'Secrets of Flight' Alluring by Melissa L Kucirek, Freelance Writer
"Ascent's Secrets of Flight garners a solid B++. They are fun, they are full of light and can easily put a smile on the listener's face. The duo's lyrics and overall presentation is interesting and draws listeners closely into their storytelling. And, this band is certainly for listeners wanting to better their minds and souls."
"...'Act of Grace,' is this larger-than-life piece. What begins as a beautiful piano (and stays that way) stream, flows into this mass collection of strings and stirring percussion. The song is marked by Christina Baldwin's colorful voice. At first her singing is harsh - like she is full of anger, but it soon becomes more apparent she is strong and assure."
" ...'Indigo' has an interesting lyrical flow. Christina's voice is thoughtful and she seems to give special attention and emotion when she sings 'ever indigo' and 'luminous hue.' It is easy to get lost in the words on this one."
" ...'Inner Workings' has a wonderful acoustic guitar introduction. The sound really carries all the way through the song and Christina's voice is powerful. "Vacancy" slows the mood down a bit, and the intricate guitar work is welcomed."
"... 'What the Crows Know' is very eclectic and almost sitar sounding chord orchestration. The guitar bridge is killer. It is deliciously bizarre and the listener can almost fee the crow's wings flapping in their head! And, Portlandia fans will agree - put a bird on it!"
- Melissa L. Kucirek, Freelance Writer (Suite101)
08.15.12PRESS: "Secrets of Flight" Review by Jonathan Widran, Music and Entertainment Journalist
SECRETS OF FLIGHT IS AN ECLECTIC FULL LENGTH SET THAT IS “PART ORGANIC,
Continuing the celebration of their beautiful and creatively exciting and fruitful rock and roll love story that began nearly 15 years ago, Southern California based husband and wife duo Bruce and Christina Baldwin—collectively known to their ever-growing fan base under the artist name Ascent—share their eclectic Secrets of Flight on a new full length collection that perfectly captures their evolving aesthetic.
Fully living up to and embracing their bold tag line “Listen and be changed forever," Ascent on these 11 tracks blends the pop sensibilities of Christina (lead vocals, lyrics) and the progressive rock and jazz influences of Bruce (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, acoustic and electronic drums,, songwriter, composer) in an expansive, genre busting wrap of acoustic beauty, electronic textures, melodic simplicity and orchestral complexity. One of the keys to the rich emotional connections the duo creates is Bruce’s ability to compose music without restraint, opening the way for insightful lyrics (by him and Christina) and unique melodic arrangements behind her poignant and emotional vocals.
Both Secrets of Flight and their previous acoustic recording Extravagant Turmoil tap into all of the emotions that define our humanity--beauty, tragedy, triumph and sorrow—with no holds barred. Their personal relationship also adds uniqueness to the way they create music together. Because they live together, they’re able to work on music anytime and have dedicated two rooms in their home for music making purposes. One is a typical band room that contains acoustic and electronic drums, a PA, guitar amp, mic stands, a vocal effect pedal and a homemade effects board they affectionately call BESSIE (“Baldwin Elite System of Synchronized Integrated Effects").
Fortunately, as Christina points out, “Our neighbors are very kind and tolerant of our musical noise. In fact, they have commented on how great our practices are and how great a drummer Bruce is." Ascent can find numerous extended neighbors, friends and fans all over Southern California who have heard them perform in a wide variety of settings, from coffeehouses in Orange and Los Angeles counties to such hotspot club venues like The Dakota Lounge in Santa Monica and the House of Blues in Anaheim as part of Warfest.
While the name Ascent is inspired by the fascination with birds, flight, technology and the yearning of the spirit for something more, their logo (a crow who is part organic, part mechanical) reflects the unique mix of sounds in their current approach to recording and performing. Christina adds, “The band name and the logo both reflect our part organic, part machine essence as we are part organic (my vocals) and part machine, including Bruce’s use of a HandSonic, aWave Drum, looping pedals, electronic orchestration software, etc."
The key track that sums up their working and romantic relationship is the edgy and rumbling yet ambient pop-rocker “Adaptation," whose lyrics—which flow like a chronicle of their individual lives and what each brought to the relationship--Christina wrote as an anniversary present to Bruce during a lean time when she couldn’t afford to buy a material gift. Four lines say it all: “We are a testament. We are sacred. We are the amorous. We are splendor." One of the most progressive rock leaning tunes is Bruce’s clever “Talking In Circles," which reflects on the corporate world where everybody is talking loud but saying little of value. The lilting, emotionally revealing “Indigo" is one of Christina’s shining moments, as she sings words of reality and encouragement for a friend who was diagnoses with MS several years ago. “She’s going through a difficult time, but she’s still beautiful," the singer says. “Act of Grace" is similarly powerful, about a friend of a friend who took her own life.
“Bruce and I have been happily married since 2006, but we’ve been a couple since 1998," Christina adds “We know each other’s passions, quirks, pain points, and needs. We nurture one another and support each other during trials and celebrate together when successes are achieved. We understand each other instinctively. We know what each other are capable of, so we push each other to achieve something even better. There is a high level of respect for what one another bring to the band."
08.15.12INTERVIEW: Rockwired Radio Interview and Podcast! LISTEN NOW!
Ascent was interviewed by Brian Lush of Rockwired Radio about the CD, Secrets of Flight. Listen to the entire interview and songs from the CD now!
08.15.12PRESS: "Secrets of Flight" Review by Chris West, Skope Entertainment Inc.
"Varied soundscapes of electronic and classical instrumentation is the crux of Ascent. The fulcrum of their tracks is that place where the natural meets the created; where the organic and the electronic meld. Fitting for the husband and wife duo, with the natural vocal prowess of Christina and the prog rock leanings and vast musicality of Bruce. Their sophomore release, Secrets of Flight, follows much in the same vein as the prior with expounded electronically generated clicks and clanks, beeps and blips and effects-laden instrumentation, all-sharing time and space with a straightforward vocal delivery."
"The album opens thematically to “Ascension" with electronic backing notes as foundation to a steady chug of electric strums. The lyrical matter is dreamy and ethereal piped through Christina’s tight vocal delivery. Featuring multiple time changes and refrains that lead to what the listener thinks is the song end before launching into a bass, electronic lead and effects midpoint before a complete return to the original melody. This one is rife with complexity. “Adaptation" is the most autobiographical track on the album and is a lyrical storyboard of the relationship between the husband and wife duo. While it follows the previous track in much of the instrumentation, the pair stepped back from the electronically generated ambiance in favor of standard four-piece musicality—with bass and drums keeping time and lead and vocals at the forefront. The track ethos is to allow the lyrics to shine and their message to come through. Acoustic is the bandleader on the heavily progressive “Talking In Circles." The constant chord progression shares the lead with the vocal delivery with slight percussion bringing up the rear. The scope of Bruce’s musicality is a highlight with a midpoint acoustic solo in the vein of Spanish guitar. More acoustic chord progression is the hallmark of “What the Crows Know" with a slightly haunting melody through the opening verses bolstered by eerie backing keys. Layers of soundscapes wax and wane on this track with Christina’s effects harmonized vocals and percussion stripped to bare bones bongos."
"The shiniest facet of Ascent is their ambition. Even in their most simplistic moments; the musicality and instrumentation is vast and the songs are technical and complex. Varied time changes and progressions abound through the tracks, at times to almost a fault."
"While the vision of the music is impressive it makes one wonder if the pair are writing music that may be too much for a duo. It seems during certain moments that it would behoove them to have a third member if not only for a different set of ears and an extra set of hands. While not to a point of a cacophony; this is A LOT of music and for that I give high marks."
05.25.12REVIEW: Foley Entertainment Reviews "Secrets of Flight"
Foley Entertainment Rating of Ascent's "Secrets of Flight" CD:
Recording Quality/Production: 4
Lead Vocals: 4.5
Lyric Writing: 4
Music Composing: 4
Song Arrangement: 4
Quality of EPK Content: 4
Overall Delivery: 4
"Thanks for submitting the material for the evaluation. I enjoyed the songs very much. You have a great voice and the production was well done too. I like your Bio. Four words - right to the point. That was cool.
When an artist sees 4, 4.5 or 5 as their score in a category, it's a validation from a professional, confirming that the songs are of the highest level and show strong potential in the ultra-competitive music industry. To really raise the bar, every artist should work hard to earn a 4.5 or 5 in every category.
It's a very competitive business and people averaging in the 3's (or less) will probably not get too far without a great deal of improvement and development. I don't give out 4's and 5's easily, so any of those you see, you have earned. Well done!
Thanks again for the music submission and continued best wishes! I look forward to hearing from you soon and continuing our dialogue."