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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ASHRA: SUNRAIN-The Virgin Years (1996)

An honest compilation that presents the multiple faces of Ashra and its evolution over these 4 years on Virgin

1 Sunrain 7:30

2 Midnight On Mars 6:52

3 Morgana Da Capo 5:29

4 Oasis 3:46

5 Club Cannibal 5:24

6 Screamer 4:27

7 Mistral 3:43

8 77 Slightly Delayed 6:44

9 Ice Train 7:40

10 Deep Distance 5:46

11 Ocean Of Tenderness 12:36

12 Phantasus 5:11

13 Blackouts 4:42

Virgin Records 1109-2

(CD 79:50) (V.F.)

(Cosmic Space Rock, Berlin School, Krautrock)

Here's an excellent compilation! SUNRAIN: The Virgin Years is the ideal compilation to discover those years that many consider to be Ashra's best. Notice that I don't share this opinion fully. To me, Ashra's career should be divided into 4 parts. Starting with the psychedelic years, from 71 to 75, when Manuel Göttsching perfected the method of guitar loops. The years 76 to 80 on Virgin where Ashra mixes the Krautrock style to electronic modulations. The years 85 to 97 where the Ashra of Manuel Göttsching gets into introspection and some of his works were remastered. And finally, the contemporary years from 98 to today, where MG revives his past by reworking with Klaus Schulze and also undertakes a more rhythmic turn, even a Techno-Dance one, with live performances of great qualities. The years that I loved the most! So, let's go back to this Virgin compilation. The Virgin years will be decisive for Göttsching since they put the career of this brilliant and ingenious guitarist under the reflectors. The 4 albums produced during this period had a good career, both in sales and in marketing, and are the best known of Ashra since been distributed on a more global scale than labels such as OHR and Spalax. This is without counting the small distribution companies that have imported these works for the local markets.

Thirteen titles on 4 albums provide an adequate overview of these 4 years. More centered on Correlations, SUNRAIN: The Virgin Years also visits the tender and sweet, although having phases of rhythms without sequencer, New Age of Earth. Magnetic and dark with fluid and sharp modulations, Blackouts is represented by 3 titles. Part of Lotus Part I-IV should have been there minimally. These two albums flirt with the same musical scents. Correlations, which is well represented with 5 titles, stands out from these two albums by being more progressive. It's with this album that Lutz Ulbrich and Harald Grosskopf join the Ashra adventure. The guitars of Göttsching and Ulbrich give a heavier and more incisive dimension to the music well directed and sustained at the rhythm level by the excellent Harald Grosskopf. Quite a drummer and percussionist than this Harald! You just have to listen to Ice Train to grasp the particular dimension of this album. Belle Alliance just didn't fit my tastes. MG seems to want to integrate a multitude of styles in this album of the most eclectic. I still believe that Screamer is the craziest piece in Ashra's repertoire. A little longer and the delirium would have been at its maximum.

A compilation remains a compilation! For a fan, there is always something missing. SUNRAIN: The Virgin Years is still a good compilation. An honest one that presents the multiple faces of Ashra and its evolution over these 4 years. And this evolution is fairly well represented with a good balance between these styles, especially with a strong presence of Correlations' titles, which remains a work quite difficult to grasp at first listenings.

Sylvain Lupari (February 27th, 2007) ***½**

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