Golden Death Music is the project of Michael Ramey, who is responsible for this album in its entirety. There is actually a lot of variation in the songwriting considering that they were written and performed by only one person. Most of the songs are composed on different guitars and supplemented by washes of electronics, hand drums, and sweeping backing vocals, among other elements. There's definitely a hazy touch of Floyd on Ramey's weary voice, but it is not a distraction. A little echo and reverb go a long way.
The order of the songs reflects this theme of recurring patterns, beginning with "Endless Dream" and "Waking Nightmare," only to end with "The Unmaking" and "Into the Ocean." Each song in between is another step along the path from self-awareness to disintegration. There undoubtedly is a melancholic air pervading many of the tracks, but it is a tired sadness rather than a desperate one. Not even the sun brings hope on "Morning Sun, Mourning Song." Likewise, little comfort comes from relationships with other people, as on "Together," when Ramey sings, "Together/We can finally be apart." The title track is surprisingly uplifting all things considered, as Ramey realizes the closeness of death and thus life's fragility and power. "In Silence" reaches for inner peace, while "True Beauty Is Emptiness" hints at a Buddhist acceptance of the cycle of life. On the surface, these may sound like weighty issues, but the music is never tedious, and the lyrics are personal rather than proscriptive. That Ramey makes such a compelling and eloquent recording out of these topics is an ambitious accomplishment.
I'm also impressed that Ramey recorded the whole thing on inexpensive equipment using only a couple of basic microphones, because his songs have more depth and creative arrangement than do a lot of bigger productions. Special attention to the panning and balances throughout elevates this album to a whole different level. It is one of the most inventive and refreshing things I have heard in quite some time.