Bright Eyes: Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, a Companion EP

This companion EP is supplemental to a re-release of Bright Eyes original album Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and features re-recordings of five of the album tracks and a cover.

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (original album): facts and stats

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn was released on the same day (25 January 2005) as sister album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. These albums were consider the band’s commercial break-though, with singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and an appearance on the Tonight Show in 2006.

On release in 2005 a Japanese CD version on Sideout Records included a CD EP with bonus tracks “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”, “Burn Rubber” and “Cremation”. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn was re-issued in 2016 in the US (including on a blue translucent cassette).

The critical reviews were mixed. Mojo Magazine called it “ghastly” (February 2005). Q Magazine called it “experimental and confusing… Oberst’s voice struggles to hit home through the effects” (Jan 2005). The Guardian said “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn combines Radiohead-style weirdness with Robert Smith’s tenderness. A stark collection of early 1980’s keyboard melodies and anxious guitar solos, Oberst’s dark dreams are numb with death and paranoia” (January 2005).

Companion EP

Band leader Conor Oberst says that the reworked Digital Ash tracks, originally so clean and elegant, are full of “harmonica and mandolins – folky vibes” on the companion EP.

The new version of “Ship in a Bottle” benefits from sweeping violin by Paul Cartwright, and “Hit the Switch” is slowed down and brightened with harmonica (Oberst), trumpet (Nate Walcott) and pedal steel guitar (Mike Mogis). Almost two minutes is shaved off “Down in a Rabbit Hole”, which is transformed into a ballad with flowing piano (Walcott), banjo (Mogis) and a traditional “rock” guitar solo. “Arc of Time (Time Code)” switches to introspection on the companion version, with some sweet backing vocals by Michaela Favara; she also appears on the evocative “Gold Mine Gutted”, which is quietened without its original modern production.

The cover of The Faint’s “Agenda Suicide” (from 2001’s Danse Macabre) is appropriately dramatic with some impressive trumpeting by Nate Walcott.

Note: Companion EP available on gold vinyl and download.

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Label: Dead Oceans
Release Date: 25 NOV 2022