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Ashra - Blackouts CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

3.76 | 116 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A familiar Tang

Manuel Gottsching followed up his 1976 solo project released under the Ashra name with this album a year later. Once again, Gottsching creates all the music himself, the band consisting only of him.

Following his apparent migration to keyboards as his preferred instrument on "New age of earth", here he reverts to lead guitar, the instrument with which he is most closely associated. The synth ambience which prevailed on "New age of earth" is still very much in evidence, but this time lead guitar is frequently placed on top of the waves of sound, thus becoming the lead instrument.

The opening "77 slightly delayed" is a reasonably upbeat affair with constantly shifting themes apparently being crammed into the space available. "Midnight on Mars" slows things down significantly, with spacey sounds and guitar twinkles a plenty. Gottsching's lead guitar work is very much to the fore, the track effectively being a soft guitar improvisation. The subdued nature of any synthesiser orchestration sets the track apart from what has gone before on Ashra's début, and indeed the first track here.

"Don't trust the kids" is a strange title for the shortest track on the album. A strong but ponderous rhythm backs a more processed guitar sound, the improvised feel however remaining strong. The title track is actually a continuation of "Don't trust the kids", the same rhythm being used as the basis for both. "Blackouts" though has more sedate but stronger lead guitar. Here, everything comes together perfectly resulting in by far the best track on the album.

The final two tracks are the two longest on the album, being 8˝ and 17 minutes respectively. "Shuttlecock" is an over-repetitive rambling affair. Perhaps it is the Motown funk ("Superstition") like beat which puts me off, but the track just seems to go nowhere. The final track "Lotus" is nominally in four parts. On this track, synthesisers come to the fore for the opening gambit, the track sounding for all the world like a Tangerine Dream out- take. The piece builds to a couple of crescendos along the way, but the guitars tend to be kept at bay throughout. Another highlight of the album though.

In all, a more varied album in some ways than "New age of earth", but for me not as satisfying. There is plenty to enjoythough and even the less impressive tracks are inoffensive. I find though that as a whole the album is inconsistent and patchy.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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