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Ashra - New Age of Earth CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

4.02 | 195 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Ash Ra Tempel had an initial run from 1970 to 1976 and hosted an array of rotating members including the great Klaus Schulze who performed percussive duties on the band's lauded 1971 debut but the entire project was basically the work of Manuel Göttsching who was instrumental in bringing the sounds of Germany's Krautrock and progressive electronic sounds to the mainstream. After the initial run of the band had expired, Göttsching moved away from the kosmichse psychedelic haze that graced the initial five album Ash Ra Tempel set and veered more into the Berlin School side of the progressive electronic scene in the vein of Tangerine Dream and former member Klaus Schulze's unique sounds that he crafted after leaving.

By jettisoning the Tempel which laid the foundation of fuzz guitar soaked rock and by adopting a clever linguistic agglutination of the Ash and Ra into ASHRA, the new name symbolized a new vision where Göttsching set his music towards the heavens with ethereal and ambient serenity performed on an ARP Odyssey, a Farfisa Syntochrestra, an EMS Synthi A, an EKO Computerhythm and a much subdued guitar section on a Gibson SG that was tamped down below the mix but yet still found some key moments to bring melodic counterpoints to the forefront. ASHRA's debut NEW AGE OF EARTH arrived in 1976 and prognosticated the advent of the marketing term that would come to be known as NEW AGE in the 80s although the actual first new age album was retrospectively assigned to Tony Scott's 1964 album "Music For Zen Meditation." Although this first ASHRA release was very much a Göttsching solo album, it would become a bonafide band beginning with the third album "Correlations."

NEW AGE FOR EARTH offered four tracks, two shorter and two on the longer side with the side long "Nightdust" swallowing up the entire B-side of the original vinyl LP clocking in just shy of 22 minutes. In its midst the album generates many moods and ethos established in the Berlin School branch of the progressive electronic scene that by the mid-70s had become quite popular. The opening "Sunrain" deviates quite a bit from much of the Ash Ra Tempel days where percussion is absent as well as Göttsching's distinct guitar sounds and instead generates a procession of synth layers and a staccato style of rhythm accompanied by atmospheric swirls and ambient fog. The 12 and a half minute "Oceans Of Tenderness" mellows out a bit but offers a bit of guitar wailing to percolate under the undulating waves of synth sounds that breeze by like zephyr winds through a mountain pass. "Deep Distance" is a rather short track under six minutes but conjures up a cloud of thick density where layers of synth sounds evoke celestial harmonies and well being.

The side long closer "Nightdust" will induce a hypnotic trance as it subtly proceeds at a snail's pace with calm placid rhythms building up to faster tempos graced by guitar licks and percussive rhythmic drives from that Berlin School synthesizer style. The album doesn't really have any weak points and stands as one of the better Berlin School style albums of the era and often gets listed as one of the best electronic albums of the entire German scene. To make things confusing this album was also released under the ASH RA TEMPEL moniker with a different album cover however i cannot figure out if it was first released that way or was released that way as a reissue as databases don't seem to agree on which came first. Whatever the case, it would be more appropriate to file this under the separate artist ASHRA since it truly does stand apart from the previous efforts that were closely related but clearly in a different field. Needless to say, this one is an excellent slice of ambient new age magnificence.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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