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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ASHRA: Sauce Hollandaise (1998)

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

It's a first concert album of the German band and my ears are just as excited as in 2007

1 Echo Waves 31:29

2 Twelve Samples 21:08

3 Niemand Lacht Rückwärts 22:15

Manikin Records – MRCD 9801

(CD 74:52) (V.F.)

(Progressive EM)

There has been a long period of absence and silence in the Ashra camp over the last 9 years (We are in 07). Years during which Manuel Göttsching has been cleaning up and remixing the band's old stuff while participating in various musical projects, including the In Blue album with Klaus Schulze, one of my favorite CDs. There was no new material, except a box set, excellent by the way, called Private Tapes, which disappeared shortly after its release. On their side Harald Grosskopf has a good solo career, while Lutz Ulbrich takes part in several projects as producer and musician. Ashra was invited to the KLEMDAG Festival in Holland on October 11th, 1997. For this concert and since the mini-tour in Japan in February, Steve Baltes joined Ashra as bass player, as well as on samplings and drum machine. In the chronology of the Göttsching band's recent events, SAUCE HOLLANDAISE comes after Ashra's Japanese tour in February and offers a rather similar setlist but with a more tempered performance from the quartet.

Echo Waves is the designated track to open this concert in the country of Ron Boots. Taken from Manuel Göttsching's 1975 solo album Inventions for Electric Guitar, the track starts with a reverberating wave and is followed by a series of animated riffs. A little less fluid than the original version, the track offers a more techno vision like this update of Manuel's different tracks that are remixed by various DJs throughout Europe. Well framed by percussions, some of them are programmed, as well as a solid bass, the guitar loops follow each other in a minimalist suite with fine nuances in the modulations. Grosskopf begins to hammer out the structure around the 10 minute mark, for at least 4 minutes before the guitar loops and multiple echo effects feed hungrily into the next 3. Initially, Echo Waves has no percussion and lasts just under 18 minutes. Here, the attacks of the master percussionist are brief and well scattered on a structure that stretches a little too much. If you like the studio version of Echo Waves, you'll like this interpretation, which I found a bit long, but the finale is very good with Manuel's fiery solos and Harald's very driving drums. From the album Walkin' The Desert, Twelve Samples takes on a whole new dimension on this SAUCE HOLLANDAISE. Forget the rhythm and the mocking Tuareg melody, here the moods develop slowly with the vocals carved in a loop of a sequenced guitar tone over a rhythm structure pulsing faintly in the background. Göttsching's six-string unleashes beautiful and good meditative solos, he seems very inspired in this concert the friend Manuel, while in the background we hear samplings of Berber incantations. Harald Grosskopf plays drums, accompanying these loops which are now covered of splendid synth layers whose orchestral romanticism gives goose bumps. We reach a climax around the 8th minute where all the elements converge with intensity, releasing the fury of this track that will plunge our ears in this sweet reverie before being reborn with as much fury. If you think Manuel is going wild here, the version found in @shra, the concert in Japan, is literally explosive.

Harald Grosskopf makes his own the intro of Niemand Lacht Rückwärts, another Göttsching composition written in 1979 and which appears on Private Tapes 4. Mini percussions solo on chords and notes as lost as they are variegated, in a disorder of a garage band adjusting its instruments. A synth drops its curtain on a floating movement, letting hear the angry riffs of the sound cavalry that comes to devastate the ears' fields. The percussions are lively with metallic clanking that is swallowed up by synth layers whose spectral melody rolls in loops and spits its hesitation on heavy strata that cling to an increasingly energetic movement on Grosskopf's raging drums, who is truly the man-engine of the track. His hits are precise and incisive and reach another excellent solo at the 12th minute. And slowly, Niemand Lacht Rückwärts loses its markers in a Krautrock texture where the German drummer is unleashed and delivers an explosive performance that dominates the layers, the mellotron mists and guitars. His last drum solo is the apotheosis of a show that concludes on summary flights of the guitars that become magnificent solos from Göttsching and Lutz Ulbrich.

Astonishing, SAUCE HOLLANDAISE is a first concert album of the mythical German psychedelic electronic music band. And it's a solid one...until @shra hits the stores 6 months later. And there we will have this impression that Ashra was holding back its wilderness in SAUCE HOLLANDAISE. In the end, I liked this album which proposes another reading of the titles in Manuel Göttsching repertoire, in spite of the lengths in Echo Waves. Even today, my ears are just as excited as in 2007. Unfortunately, the album has been discontinued for many moons and can be heard on streaming sites. Here is a YouTube link...

Sylvain Lupari (26/01/22) *****

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