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Ash Ra Tempel - Friendship CD (album) cover

FRIENDSHIP

Ash Ra Tempel

 

Krautrock

3.63 | 38 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars The prospect of a Krautrock superstar reunion must have had fans salivating in anticipation, but don't be misled by the Ash Ra Tempel moniker. The music on this year 2000 collaboration between two of the group's founding fathers bears no relation whatsoever to the unearthly kosmische explorations of bygone days.

Original bassist Hartmut Enke wasn't involved (hardly surprising, after his LSD burnout in the mid-1970s). And a more genuine Ash Ra Tempel reunion would have Klaus Schulze clattering away behind his dusty old drum kit, instead of pre-programming all the shiny, synthetic drum patterns heard here.

In retrospect the album was never meant to rescale the heights of German experimental music. The early '70s were tumultuous years, requiring an equally tumultuous soundtrack, but the end of the last millennium saw the exploratory spirit of the surviving original Krautrockers more or less tamed by age and complacency. Nothing wrong with that; we all grow old eventually, and for some of us it can be a very comfortable process. Consider this more as music of celebration, not opposition, marking thirty years of spiritual kinship over three long instrumental workouts, rich in digital atmospherics and propelled by the smoothest rhythms this side of a Bryan Ferry album.

Schulze's contributions don't extend far beyond the background layers of plastic New Age wallpaper. But the music takes wing whenever Manuel Göttsching begins one of his typically nimble solos. Göttsching was always one of the most natural guitarists of his generation, and despite a more refined style of playing in later years he never lost any of his skill or passion. The title track in particular offers a stunning display of power and sensitivity...at least before the artificial drumming kicks in and transforms it into an after- hours Iberian dance party.

(Besides the self-titled "Friendship", the other two tracks are named "Reunion" and "Pikant", the latter possibly a misspelling of 'piquant', but after hearing it I hardly think so.)

In the end the album might provide decent background music for making love, washing dishes, or working off all that middle-aged flab on a health farm treadmill. But it doesn't exactly encourage active listening, unlike the Ash Ra Tempel of old. Whoever said it first was right: apparently you can't go home again.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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