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ASHRA

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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Ashra biography
Active from 1976-1998 as a solo project of Manuel Göttsching (born 9 September 1952 in Berlin, Germany)

ASHRA was Manuel GÖTTSCHING's continuation of a ASH RA TEMPEL, moving from the outerspace psychedelic realms of the temple to the electronic domain of Berlin characterized by TANGERINE DREAM. It's this aspect which leads to the "New Age", which has since been quite successful. The spiralling guitars and electronic layers create calm ambiences which are the basis of this style.

There were four excellent albums in the late 70's/early 80's: "New Age of Earth", "Blackouts", "Correlations" and "Belle Alliance". "New Age of Earth" (mainly synth but with some guitar) was the result of his new direction. This is a beautiful, lyrical release, with solo guitar against tapestries of electronics, which has a much more 'human' feel than other similar 'Berlin school' works of the same period. "Blackouts" is very relaxing and a great way to unwind after a difficult day.

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ASHRA discography


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ASHRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 195 ratings
New Age of Earth
1976
3.76 | 112 ratings
Blackouts
1977
2.95 | 52 ratings
Correlations
1979
3.22 | 36 ratings
Belle Alliance
1980
3.56 | 22 ratings
Walkin' The Desert
1989
1.72 | 19 ratings
Tropical Heat
1991

ASHRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 17 ratings
Sauce Hollandaise
1998
3.33 | 9 ratings
@shra
1998
3.33 | 9 ratings
@shra Vol. 2
2002

ASHRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Live At The Open Air Festival Herzberg 1997
2001

ASHRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 5 ratings
Sunrain: The Virgin Years
1996
3.00 | 7 ratings
The Making Of
2002

ASHRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ASHRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 New Age of Earth by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.02 | 195 ratings

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New Age of Earth
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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.

 New Age of Earth by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.02 | 195 ratings

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New Age of Earth
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Vinyl Connection

4 stars Whenever I see this first Ashra album (or final Ash Ra Temple album, if you prefer) listed in New Age discographies, I get a bit irritated. Perhaps because I've been following Manual Göttsching's musical career since the mid-70s, I saw him as progressive/electronic or even Krautrock psychedelia. The New Age label?so eighties, I sniffed?seemed somehow demeaning in its implication of featureless massage muzak. Then, years later, I realised there was a defensible reason for this appropriation of Ashra's delicate electronica: the title of the record. And also, the music. It's drifty and more gently rhythmic than most of Göttsching's work; kind of new age-ey in fact. Ah well.
 Sauce Hollandaise by ASHRA album cover Live, 1998
3.68 | 17 ratings

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Sauce Hollandaise
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars At least, nearly 20 years after, the first live release from ASHRA. "Walkin' the desert" wasn't a live recording but a studio album with reworked tracks inspired by a 1988 Berlin concert. The set-list is a bit curious as it does not feature any official ASHRA studio track from its golden age, the 70's. In the tradition of electronic progressive pioneers, the performance contains both already released and previously unreleased compositions, the known ones being rearranged.

"Echo Waves" (from "Inventions for Electric Guitar") is the most convincing track. Nice and modernized with techno beat, it finishes with a cool spacey guitar solo. If you enjoy the original studio version, you'll enjoy this live track. However, "Twelve Samples" (from "Walkin' the desert") is a bit different. It's an audacious choice as this is rather singular piece in ASHRA's discography. However, this live version is more ambient and less middle-eastern, which leads to 2 problems. First, if you don't know the original version, this mixture results in a strange sauce, sometimes hard to digest. Second, if you know and enjoy the original version, the middle-eastern samples are more discrete, thus reducing the personnality and the charm of this composition. "Niemand Lacht Rückwärts" (previously unreleased) is the main novelty here. The first part consists in mysterious experimental passages and drumming, while the second part is quite dreamy and ends with a cool guitar solo. Overall, pleasant but a bit unequal.

As a first live release from ASHRA, "Sauce Hollandaise" is enjoyable, although not essential. Not the ideal place to discover the band's classic compositions, but the spirit is present.

 Blackouts by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.76 | 112 ratings

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Blackouts
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

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.

 New Age of Earth by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.02 | 195 ratings

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New Age of Earth
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars

Initially recorded in 1976, "New Age Of Earth" is undoubtly an important album in the development of electronica. Contrarily to what the title may suggest, the style is different from the new-age and "world" genres that will develop in the next decades. Furthermore, there is no real relation with the New-Age philosophy. Manuel Göttsching has now left the Ohr label for Virgin to create ASHRA. Unique member for this first album, he made the musical direction evolve from long ASH RA TEMPEL space rock jams to electronic-dominated shorter compositions. However, there are some interesting differences from what his german compatriots were doing at the same period.

First, the synthetizer sequences are manually played and not programed, adding more human feel and modulations to the overall ambiance. Second, the style is very minimalistic and share similarities with STEVE REICH. Finally, due to the usage of major scale the tracks sounds warmer, smoother than the other tunes of the same genre, .

"Sunrain" is a good synthesis of these different aspects. Soft and comforting, it will become an ASHRA classic. "Ocean of Tenderness" is my least favorite of the record. I tend to find this slow ambient tune a bit too long. The other short track, "Deep Distance" is an inspired soft cosmic dreamy passage.The record finishes with the 22 minutes long "Nightdust". Contrarily to the other compositions, the ambiance is darker and more mysterious. While its first half is atmospheric, the second half contains a cool synth sequence and a nice spacey guitar.

The first listen can result on mixed feelings. Repetitive, without many variations, the minimalistic style can disconcert TANGERINE DREAM, SCHULZE or JARRE fans. Personally, I prefer shorther tracks over the long ones. However, Manuel Göttsching may have been more innovative than his electronic brothers at the same time for this first opus. "New Age Of Earth" has its own identity: warm, soothing and ideal of relaxation. A soft trip to friendly stars.

After all, maybe this album had on influence on New-Age philosophy and music, one will never know...

 Tropical Heat by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1991
1.72 | 19 ratings

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Tropical Heat
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Easily ASHRA's weakest album. Released in 1991, "Tropical Heat" is a compilation of compositions initially recorded in 1986-1987. These for sure does not sound like their former records. The band tries to mix their style with "tropical" elements and the worst mid-80's electronic sounds. This record is harder to understand when you know Manuel Göttsching composed such innovative and avant-garde albums like "New Age of Earth" and the influencal "E2-E4", just 5 years earlier.

The opening "Mosquito Dance" is one of the rare pleasant passage of the record. It's a relaxing and charming soft tune with a dynamic rythm and joyful melody. On the contrary, The title track have no particular tropical feel, but sounds terribly dated and uninspired, as it contains many of the synth clichés of this period. Where's my ASHRA? "Pretty Papaya" is the only composition by Manuel Göttsching. Not really pretty, this is a dated 80's synth tune trying to sound exotic.

"Nights In Sweat" is a missed attempt at including jazz samples. With its awful beats and disjointed melody, this track is barely listenable. In the same style, "Don't Stop The Fan" is just slightly better. "Monsoon" concludes the record with an hawaiian-like guitar. A peaceful tune, not bad but not good either.

Reworking this rather uninspired dated mid-80's material was not a good idea. Releasing it during the beginning of the 90's, a period that gave birth to a new generation of electronic artists, was even worse. Few rare enjoyable moments, I recommend to skip to other albums of ASHRA.

 Walkin' The Desert by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.56 | 22 ratings

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Walkin' The Desert
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The desert has unexpected resources

In 1988, West-Berlin was the european culture capital. During this event, ASHRA performed a concert without Harald Grosskopf, who was not available. Manuel Göttsching and Lutz Ulbrich created a stylistic exercise with different instruments. The compositions were later reworked by the two musicians and released as an album.

"Walkin' the desert" is quite unique in ASHRA's discography. Heterogeneous, its style is completely different from their albums records, and even from what other 70's electronic bands were doing at the same time. No new-age, pre-techno, or accessible melodic synthetizer music here; the approach is more similar to the minimalistic genre developed by pioneers such as Steve Reich. An evidence: each track names the instruments used and their number.

"First Movement" has reminiscences with "New Age of Earth", in the minimalistic style. My least favorite passage of the disc. "Second Movement" displays a relaxing ambiance consists in interlaced atmospheric synth textures, with javanese influences. Its mysterious mood makes you wish to explore an ancient temple.

"Third Movement" can remind a little "Inventions For Electric Guitar", as the guitar plays the role of the electronic sequence. Once more, it shows Manuel Göttsching's mastership with this instrument. The last track, "Fourth Movement", is the most original and "desert"-ic. A good inspired collage of short samples of middle-oriental instruments and songs. The first part is melodic, while the second half is rather ambient. Very refreshing. The 1990 CD edition contains a bonus track, "Dessert". More accessible than the other compositions, it's a pleasant slow melancholic tune.

"Walkin' the desert" is a good surprise compared to most electronic music of the same period. Recommended if you want to discover another facet of ASHRA, and especially if you're into minimalistic genre and Steve Reich.

 Belle Alliance by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.22 | 36 ratings

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Belle Alliance
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Belle Alliance" is the continuation of the style adopted on the former ASHRA album, "Correlations": accessible space disco-rock, the Manuel Göttsching way. However, the music is more various, as it shows influences from other musical genres.

"Wudu" and "Screamer" are efficient openers, with a energic beats and guitars. Then comes "Boomerang" with its reggae ryhtm and joyful tone. Undoubtly inventive but a bit odd as its ambiance contrasts with the former tracks. Back to electronics with "Aerogen", my favorite composition of the record. Fast space-disco/rock with a very good guitar solo from Göttsching.

The second half is less dynamic. "Sausalito" has an average melody and is the least interesting track of the record. "Kazoo" contains is a slow ambient tune with some oriental incursions, but unfornately not many variations. With 15 minutes duration, "Code Blue" is the only long track of the album. This very slow atmospheric composition sounds by moments similar to Terry Riley. Enjoyable, but much too long and certainly does not justify its length. The record finishes with "Mistral", a delicate aerial tune with spanish influenced guitar play.

Although a bit unequal and heterogeneous, occasionally resulting in strange transitions, the overall impression is positive. I slightly prefer "Correlations" over this one. However, as its little brother, "Belle Alliance" is quite pleasant and original.

 New Age of Earth by ASHRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.02 | 195 ratings

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New Age of Earth
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by MJAben

4 stars This album is a journey. One thing that constantly amazes me about this record is how perfectly layered it is, often with so many different streams of sound cascading into you. What I love the most about this album however is that if I listen to it closely I am treated to some of the most thoughtful, developed and subtle psych / electronic / kraut I have ever heard. But when I listen to the album as background music it functions wonderfully as a mood inducer, and more importantly for an insomniac like myself, a sleep inducer.

I don't think the albums perfect, the drum machine can at times be off-putting and, to be perfectly frank, this album doesn't push any envelope and remains safe.

Many reviewers have mentioned how they find 'Nightdust' to be their favorite track but for me I find that this is the opposite, it's not that the song is bad but that it feels like it meanders too much whereas the other songs accomplish what they set out to do in a much shorter and more concise manner. I feel as though 'Nightdust' doesn't really pick up until the last ten minutes which, from then on in, it is utterly jaw-dropping. For me, the highlight is the album is the middle, the songs 'Ocean of Tenderness' and 'Deep Distance' take you on such a journey in their own right, beautiful and ethereal but at the same time, feeling focused and driven.

The real strength here is listening to the album as a whole, each song individually couldn't come close to holding up to the journey that the whole album is able to take you through, from start to finish this record is absolutely fantastic.

4/5 stars

 Sauce Hollandaise by ASHRA album cover Live, 1998
3.68 | 17 ratings

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Sauce Hollandaise
Ashra Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well, I guess, ASHRA or specifically, Manuel Göttsching's following of the "minimalistic", unique musical language of his clear influence Steve Reich, heads into what is not mere plagiarism, which is the easy way out, no, he as a self demanding composer, who has felt the vibes of the "electronic-music" future in Reich's structures, takes those "elements" and as such, makes them work as compositional elements, not as Reich's structures. It is clear Manuel Göttsching has "breathed" this "air".

Now, the "naked truth", if you are either> a-"disgusted", b-"repelled", c-"offended" by A-"Trance/Dance/electronics including "Floor/Dance/Trance", B-"Non-TD "copy-kats" electronics", C-"intelligent music", D- "ambiental structures", E-"worry too much if music is prog or not", or all of the above. Well skip on to the next review, if you please. (You won't miss a thing.)

A clear influence of Reich's music as far as using independent "minimal lines" and percussions. But, by its own, a pioneering source of the" future" (from 1998 to 2013) of what now young people understand as "electronic" music. And yes even in that "Un-Prog" land, a lot of good "electronic music" has been happening. "Underworld" (the band not the pic), to name my favorite, among others.

So do not feel compelled to enjoy this extraordinary, 15 years ahead of its time, progressive electronic, masterful "live" performance. Not to make a "big fuzz" of how glad I am, I got this ASHRA's "Sauce Hollandaise", for now, ****4 PA stars.

"Essential" if you got to this point of the review.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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