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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ASHRA: New Age of Earth (1976)

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

“In this wonderful world of EM, New Age of Earth is an inescapable work which mixes soft jerky beats and wonderful ethereal melodies”

1 Sunrain 7:26 2 Ocean of Tenderness 12:36 3 Deep Distance 5:46 4 Nightdust 21:52 Virgin Vaults CDV 2080

(47:55) (V.F.) (Vintage Berlin School)

It's been a while since I'm talking about Ashra and/or Manuel Gottsching. And the reason is simple; both names are open doors to the wonderful world of an EM which still had its paths in the Krautrock movement back in the end of the 70's. And I must start with NEW AGE OF EARTH. This 6th album from Ashra Temple follows a very turbulent era of the Temple where Manuel Gottsching leads the ship by both hands after producing his very first solo album; Inventions for Electric Guitar which has still its imprints on this new album. Being alone on this new phase of Ashra, Manuel Gottsching played all the instruments which were mainly electronic. Making so of NEW AGE OF EARTH the most electronic album from Ashra Temple.

Nervous on a rhythm knotted into jerks which roll in loops, Sunrain spreads all the magic of the artificial rhythms of NEW AGE OF EARTH. Here, there is no percussions. Only synth layers finely cut out and which stuck together are shaping a staccato style of rhythm of which the very hatched flow is used as rhythmic bed to a soft melody that haunts our senses and sings in a drizzle from a celestial fog. The riffs and chords from his Gibson are beading of intensity on a crystal-clear tone and on fine modulations that jump just enough to chase away any drowsiness attempts. One stays wide awake and one catches unmistakably the beat of synth strata which transport ethereal melodies and jerky rhythms. At times, a cloud of mist comes to comfort this duel of rhythm and harmony by transposing it towards another level of emotionalism. Without percussions and equipped of an analog synth and his guitar, Manuel Gottsching maintains a rhythm supported by his genius and his way of modulating an artificial beat shaped by jerked breezes of synth rolling in the air. This is a powerful track of which the skeleton will hold the whole structure of Deep Distance which is less heavy but where the loops form a crystalline serpentine of a surrealist transparency. Ocean of Tenderness is my Stairway to Heaven of electronic music. An ode to tenderness with nice analog sound effects on a sea of sensibility, of tears and of sorrows. Wonderful, the guitar is crying and makes cry such as a lost soul which suffers from the abandonment, from the bitterness of a past formerly filled with promises. May I say that there were a lot of tears pour and lost in this Ocean of Tenderness? An ocean floating on a synth and on its ghostly breezes which embraces the very ambient modulations rocked by a lonely bass line in a sonic sky filled by Manuel Gottsching's guitar laments which is worth any kind of analog synth. This is simply enchanting and magical. An essential track in the EM sphere which is carved on my iPod since years. After Deep Distance, which is more cosmic than Sunrain, Nightdust drags us into the entrails of an ambient and psychedelic Berlin School very near of Klaus Schulze's roots. Manuel Gottsching multiplies analog modulations and frequencies of a very cosmic and floating movement. Whistling, the synth shouts spectral forms of sonic striations which are at the same time scheming and mesmerizing. In this ice-cold blackness, the founder of Ashra Temple mixes some vampiric strata in clothing of drama from an intrusive Mellotron that float and converge towards his finely hatched structures of rhythms build around a fusion of synth / guitar whose soft tears are rolling in the lost loops of a jerky structure. This rhythm teases the darkness in the half of Nightdust and is charmingly wrapped in the floating shadows of an ethereal movement which seems to contain a fury slightly lower to the pace of Deep Distance. A fury which overflows from a cosmic thick cloud of elements before melting up with the tenderness of a kind of a psychedelic Eden where the birds chirp in the singings of a synth and in some lines of an organ condemned to celestial harmonies. Like a NEW AGE OF EARTH.

NEW AGE OF EARTH is a classic of EM where everything is built from ideas torn away to the unfaithful horizons of hard drugs. Following the rules of hopping rhythms and of ambiences to perfumes of ether that one finds on Inventions for Electric Guitar, Manuel Gottsching is offering here his bridge to freedom and so expresses all of his genius. He also succeeds more than anything in creating a very intimist universe where one feels really alone to listen to his music. Ocean of Tenderness has to be the most sensitive and emotive track that I heard in my life and was also my open door to all this universe where the music of Ashra and of Manuel Gottsching was going to become a link between techno and psychedelic EM. NEW AGE OF EARTH is a must, while that Ocean of Tenderness is a necessity to all those who missed it.

Sylvain Lupari (February 11th, 2007) *****

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