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5 stars This was the record that started my interest for guitar oriented ambient music. The guitar is climbing in spirals and it is kind of chanting melody after melody. If you like harmonic instrumental music with an edge, then buy this one. Blackout is one of my favorites from the seventies and my first 5-star on prog-archives.
Report this review (#23754)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An other consequent work of the innovative guitar player Manuel Göttsching. In this release he explores the possibilities of his instrument and make combinations with electronic structures. The first track is pleasant, quiet amazing with its repetitive and gentle melody. Midnight on Mars draws a dreamy soundscape full of guitar echoes with a well-inspired solo. With the title track, this marvelous piece culminates the album. The two last titles mix guitar parts to sequencers arpeggios with a great sense of musical sentences. We can also ear some discreet minimalist accents on that ones. Fresh and well done, this release is a good enter in Ashra music.

Report this review (#23755)
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The electronic music is an aspect which I prefer in the music progressive. I discovered recently Manuel Göttsching, Ashra and Ash Ra Tempel. I find his music rather lively and less static than that of Klaus Schulze (that I like in small doses besides). Manuel Göttsching calls reminds me indirectly certain album of Tangerine Dream. Manuel Göttsching reminds me indirectly certain albums of Tangerine Dream. It is a rather light and attractive "preparatory" music. To discover.
Report this review (#45256)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first got into the German "komische music" I was more into Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze than Ash Ra. However, by 1998 as the total synth/sampler sound rainbow had been unfurled with GREAT 90's electronica (Future Sound of London, Orb, Sun Electric, the Irresistible Force) I became more interested in hearing a music that was dominated by synthesizers and sequencers but had the steady presence of non synthesizers instruments.... Ive had this Blackouts by Ash Ra (along with all the others from this period: New Age of Earth, Correlations, Belle Alliance) for 20+ years but never found it as brilliant as TD and KS... I feel very differnently now.. This record is very good.. Manuel Gottsching on this record uses a basic sequencer set-up, some simple type of rhythmn device, a few synthesizers and his brilliant guitar playing. Ive always thought that the one man sequencer( or studio) band was a very pure art form, In the sense that it is one mans vision like a painting is, and not the diluted vision of 3-7 people ( and not to say that is flawed, but speaking as an individual musician who has a lot of vision and has worked in both a band and solo , I can tell you i love the latter the most).. Manuel Gottsching is an absolute brilliant musician, one of the best in my opinion.. I mean listen to the beautiful layers of unison guitar parts and melodic guitars,,, and im talking here about melodic leads that have been pain stakingly doubled and tripled, I think this guy is better at it than David Gilmour ( who i also admire in similar ways).. Manuel Gottsching never over plays like a lot of Prog Dept people, just one beautifull sound painting after another... if ur into beautifull color music like me ... get this.. if your at all serious about guitar and what can be done with a guitar beyond whats been done over and over again.. Manuel Gottsching to the best of my knowledge is the only one that does it quite like this ; Manuel's guitar playing is VERY signature like that of Carlos Santana or Jerry Garcia ( meaning: you hear just 3 notes and you know who it is..)...get this.....Hybrid.. if you like the idea of very hybrid music that is balanced with keyboards AND guitar , because more prog is dominated by one or the other, RARELY is there a perfect balance.. I consider only Ozric Tentacles to come under this area also
Report this review (#46147)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Right from the beginning of Track One 77 Slightly Delayed you just know that this is going to be something special, Manuel wastes no time in setting up a great syncopated backing. Then the guitar comes in - and what guitar! Clean, precise and wonderfully effected. OK, yes I am a fan and have been for over twenty years. So its a joy to pull this album from the shelves in order to write this review. Manuel manages to mesh his rhythm and lead playing so well, the rhythm being one of those classic and perfect sounds. This isn't one of those guitar improve work-outs, the listener is left in no doubt that Manuel meant to play every note he played. Track Two Midnight On Mars, ah - my favorite ASHRA track EVER. It's "Midnight on Mars" and I'm there right alongside him. Again Manuel sets up the lead line perfectly with his mix of synths, drum machine (wasn't it the classic EKO Rhythm Computer?) and wicked guitar. This particular melody has lived in my brain since the first moment I heard it, twenty plus years ago. In fact, everyone I've ever played this track to has commented on it. Manuel should be praised for creating one of the most sublime guitar moments ever to be recorded. I think I'm gushing here. Still what the hell, this track is worth it. Track Three Don't Trust The Kids isn't letting up, a bass sequence brings in the piece. This is soon joined by subtle percussion and a very well-crafted rhythm guitar. Manuel certainly gets an amazing rhythmic feel. The lead line isn't far behind, this time two guitars playing in harmony. I've never been really sure whether or not that's a guitar synth. It's the right time for the early Roland GR500 and I believe Edgar Froese was using one at about this time as well. The lead is given over to a nicely distorting guitar, again Manuel really means every note he's playing. A superb bit of programming moves the whole piece into double- time, and Track Four Blackouts. He isn't even breaking into a sweat, this is fantastic guitar. Track Five Shuttle Cock again shows off the rhythm playing and what a groove he sets up. The piece just lopes along with some great interplay between the guitars and the sequencers. Track Six Lotus Part I-IV continues the lesson in setting up a groove, Manuel actually gets a bit discordant here for a while before pulling it all back for the typical ASHRA sound, namely babbling sequencers, the minimum of percussion and smartly effected arpeggios. This track shows his ability to generate a flowing piece of music that takes the listener with it, wherever the end of the journey may be. The Bottom Line: Buy it, buy it, buy it. Couldn't be clearer really, could it? Beware there is a subliminal message hidden in that last sentence. The wording on the old LP sums it up quite nicely really, "Manuel Göttsching plays Sequencer, Keyboards and a lot of Guitar". He sure does.
Report this review (#61732)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars ASHRA was really a solo project of Manuel Gottsching that he started after leaving ASHRA TEMPLE. He had done a solo album under his own name and this was his second ASHRA record. Just so you know, ASHRA was Manuel Gottsching all by himself playing guitar, keyboards and sequencer. He tells us in the liner notes that "This record should be heard comfortably". We know what you mean Manuel. The album cover is really freaky, with the reflection of a face on the guitar.

"77 Slightly Delayed" is a hypnotic, spacey soundscape with melodic guitar leading the way. "Midnight On Mars" is another spacey tune with such a good melody. "Don't Trust the Kids" has the sequencers up front leading the way instead of the guitar this time. "Blackouts" has some almost soaring guitar on it instead of the usual picking that he usually does.

"Shuttle Cock" is my favourite off of the album. It's a fast paced, catchy tune, with a wave of synths before 5 minutes."6Ths-Part I - IV" is the most ambitious track. Synths to open, as guitar comes in and we get this same melody until the synths start to build in sound after 6 minutes. It sounds like we are travelling through a solar storm, dodging debris as we go, until suddenly we are spinning out of control ! It's alright though as things calm down and we find ourselves drifting peacefully along once again. What a trip !

This is recommended those who are into ambient, spacey, instrumental music.

Report this review (#125292)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Along with Savoy Brown's Wire Fire artwork, Ashra ("they" changed their names, "they" being Gottsching by himself) Blackouts is one of those albums immortalizing the Gibson SG4 with its twin devil-like horns near the neck of the guitar. But whether these homages are actually necessary or useful is another story (in both case, too), because the albums sporting the SG4 are clearly the respective artiste's best albums.

Blackouts does sport more tracks (6) than previous ART albums (max 3), but it doesn't change much the soundscapes developed here. Along with sequencers, we've got now some kind of rhythm box "avant-la- lettre", which does give a different sound and have it moving away from Tangerine Dream sound. The five shorter tracks are a bit more eventful than would've been one side-long track, but we're still in the same electro-pop world where Gottsching's guitar still holds an important place.

Clearly with Blackouts, Gottsching hints more at Kraftwerk or Cluster than Tangerine Dream. However the 17-mins Lotus track is veering a cheesy TD-like sound. Just like the previous album, Blackouts is just not essential, but if you like a certain pop-iness in your electronic music, this has its chances to find your graces.

Report this review (#172997)
Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Ever heard of an album where you felt you were floating deep in space?

Ashra's Blackouts is a completely instrumental album played solely by Manuel Göttsching playing the sequencer, synths and the electric guitar. Blackouts mainly delivers dreamy soundscapes very ala Tangerine Dream, just that this time there's a sublime electric guitar leading the tracks and unlike Tangerine Dream, Ashra, well actually Manuel doesn't add the mellotron neither does he delve through dark spaces.

The album opens up with 77 Slightly Delayed. It's a up-tempo tune featuring Manuel Göttsching's sequencer and echoey guitar, and if I'm not mistaken also the synths are present, but not in the way the 70's giants used it, it's way more subtle giving the song a spacey-driven atmosphere and bringing a bit of melody to the song. Overall a nice semi-melodic dreamy soundscape, with a wonderful hypnotic guitar solo.

The album's atmosphere doesn't vanish, and continues with the beautiful Midnight on Mars, which the title in this track, even if doesn't have lyrics, suits perfectly since Manuel achieves a fascinating aura with the sequencer and keyboards and then he adds a majestic guitar solo to give the song a melody in which will lead you into a eternal, magical, sleep-coma.

The album continues with Don't Trust The Kids which is conected with the following one, Blackouts. A bit less dreamy because it has a robotic feel due to the sequencer, but still it has a soundscape to follow created by the keys. The song delivers another guitar solo which is, once again, delightful. Blackouts soon starts, with the same robotic sequencer sound but slightly faster. The title track has a stunning guitar solo all throughout the song and ends up with an odd sound, similar to the noises of lasers shots from sci-fi movies.

Then follows Shuttle Cocks, in the vein of the last two but oddly enough it compromises a groovy rhythm all through, yet another great tune, and makes the album's state more diverse.

The album ends with the electronic, spacey epic called Lotus which is compromised by four parts. It's a good mix of the first 4 songs, but this time the melody is made by a synth, while the guitar is just in the background with the sequencer giving the rhythm of the song. However in the middle of the tune it transforms into a chaotic parallel, with dissonance everywhere created by the sequencer and keyboards, but soon it gets back to how it started.

Highly recommended album for those who want some space chilling music with some mesmerizing guitar work, as well as for those still looking for a very effective sleep-album. For those who didn't find that on Tangerine Dream, I can assure you that either Blackouts or the even better debut called New Age of Earth will do the trick. Anyways, I do not recomend this album for those who are looking for structured based songs: having notable begining and end; drums, bass, guitar riffs or anything related to 'rock'.

Report this review (#195610)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Göttschings second album under the Ashra banner is an adequate continuation of New Age Of Earth, but lacks the sparkle of inspiration that was shining on that album.

77 Slightly Delayed features a minimal synth sequence of the Cluster/kraftwerk school. It serves for a guitar solo of Göttsching. His soft picking and noodling reminds me of Oldfield on Ommadawn. It's quite a cheerful tune actually, at least in the progressive electronic realm. Also Midnight On Mars is a light tune with synth processed electric guitars. Don't Trust The Kids/Blackout is the first real highlight with spacey guitar leads and bouncy bass melodies. Shuttle Cocks is even a bit funky. Lotus reminds me very much of Oldfield again due to the mellow melodies and the synth sounds, which sit somewhere between Ommadawn and Froese's solo albums from those years. There are some nice hypnotic parts but it's a bit lengthy.

Overall a nicely flowing electronic album with original and refreshing guitar playing. Not the recommended place to start your Ashra / Ash Ra Tempel discoveries unless you want to try the light-version first.

Report this review (#285299)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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.

Report this review (#294648)
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars You might know that I quite appreciate the great TD. And I was quite keen on Ashra Tempel as well. So, this album is not to dislike me for sure: brilliant soundscapes, ambient moods and delicate electronic and melodic music.

These are lots of great ingredients indeed. But the TD filiations are maybe too obvious during this album. Some more inventiveness or creativity would have been more than welcome. This being said, the great Manuel Göttsching offers some delightful pieces of music which are being listened with great pleasure.

Of course, I am now somewhat biased with this type of album. In those remote days, I was no longer inclined to prog rock: the mood was somewhat different in '77 (I hope I go to heaven?). But I revert to this type of music in the early naughties with a lot of interest, taste and passion.

I wouldn't rate this album with the masterpiece status, but four stars sounds legitimate. Give it an ear if you like TD or the Tempel. You shouldn't be disappointed.

Four stars.

Report this review (#312486)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blackouts isn't too much different in sound or textures than Manuel Gottsching's debut release under the Ashra name. This album is very warm, bright, and optimistic. Some of the optimistic sequenced melodies give this album a feel of glistening cool water in the summer sunlight. At times, the synthesized melodies act like a minimalist orchestra playing as a backdrop behind Gottsching's Pink Floyd-like guitar soloing. Compared to the debut album, Blackouts seems to have more obvious moments for a more traditional electric guitar tone to shine through, and really gives this album a strong space-rock/psychedelic-rock feel ("Midnight on Mars", "Blackouts"), but the album as a whole comes off as sounding like minimalist psychedelic beach music, and it is much more pleasant than my makeshift title sounds.

Blackouts is just as high-quality as New Age of Earth is, and is the perfect companion piece to the debut. Repetitive, psychedelic, beautiful, and warm. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#443062)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another synthesiser-backed album of guitar noodling from Manuel Göttsching, though this time around I'm a bit less impressed than I was with New Age of Earth. Göttsching clearly has chops, but he too often just fumbles along in a bog standard psychedelic format and never quite gets around to doing anything particularly new. The spirit of Ash Ra Tempel which still haunted New Age of Earth has gone and nothing of consequence has come in to take its place. It's a decent, placid New Agey guitar album, but little of consequence beyond that - those seeking genuinely progressive electronic material would do better to chase up the preceding Ashra album.
Report this review (#555823)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm more disappointed in myself rather than at Manuel Gottsching for initially really liking BLACKOUTS and having all of the amazement just drain after a few listens. The Cliff Notes version of this review would be as follows: nice spacey electronics but nothing too special. For the longer version...

BLACKOUTS is a good album to put on in the background when you need to work on something important or you're hosting a party and want to play some cool background music with some prog points. These are long pieces that rarely change in ground structure with some keyboard melody or teaser guitar solo over the top. If you like the beat/theme/riff/drone, you're good for seven or so minutes; else, hit skip (''Shuttlecock'' is the only one I would skip). It's as good as I can get with the descriptions without mentioning the actual tracks.

The long ''Lotus'' is done well for being seventeen minutes as its parts are kind-of well-defined, but the second part is the most interesting as the structure just destabilizes until the third part suddenly comes in and melody is back. Not bad, but my mind would drift too easily here. ''Don't Trust the Kids/Blackouts'' sounds close to poppy thanks to the big bass synth riff, but it begs to be covered by a rock band, not that these songs are bad but I'm just curious. ''Midnight on Mars'' actually sounds like it could be used on Mars (maybe Young Justice could use this if Miss Martian was to return home...anyone?).

BLACKOUTS is overall pleasant, but I find Tangerine Dream to be generally far more engaging and vibrant despite the cold electronic futuristics.

Report this review (#565753)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars ASHRA's best studio album

4.5 stars

In 1977, Manuel Göttsching bought a sequencer and began to experiment with it. At the end of the year, his new solo album "Blackouts" was released. Although still warm and soft, his music becomes less minimalistic, more various, melodic and guitar-oriented.

"77 Slightly Delayed" is an humorous reference to the fact that this record could have been delayed to 1978. This opening track is a nice sweet, dreamy piece. "Midnight On Mars" features more guitar. "Don't Trust The Kids" / "Blackouts" is in fact a single pleasant 8 minutes track. I don't really understand why it has been separated in 2 halfs, but it does not matter. "Shuttlecock" continues in the same vein, with a little funky rythm. The record finishes with the 17 minutes long "Lotus", which contains some experimental passages. Enjoyable, but a bit too long.

Less innovative than "New Age of Earth" (due to the analog sequencer?), "Blackouts" has however more variety, melody and is better balanced than its predecessor. The tone is still warm and soothing, like if you were floating in space. Manuel Göttsching's guitar makes the compositions even prettier. Very recommended to TANGERINE DREAM, KLAUS SCHULZE or even space rock fans.

Report this review (#1545716)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | Review Permalink

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