Artist: Ashra
Album: @shra vol 1 + 2

Label: M G Art

Ashra vol 1 Ashra vol 2
Manuel Gottsching has been on the electronic music scene for many, many years, performing solo as well as in collaboration under several different group names. While touring Japan in 1997 with Lutz Ulbrich, Harald Grosskopf and Steve Baltes, he headed that year's incarnation of Ashra - a name, synonymous with Ash Ra Tempel whose lineage extends back to Berlin and the very dawn of spacerock and spacemusic. The live performances were recorded and subsequently fit onto two CDs: @shra vol 1 and @shra vol 2.

Listening to a live album by an artist who has long since marked the silver anniversary of their first gig usually feels like stumbling into the story just as it is ending. Not so with this recent live music by Ashra. Throughout the two volumes the listener is treated to exciting live renditions of classic spacemusic; each epic full of an energy bourne out of the love of the music, the spontaneity of the moment and the rediscovery of the genre's most compelling characteristic - that which allows the artist to "make it new every night".

The two albums include live versions of several Gottsching/Ashra classics. "Echo Waves" and "Sunrain" are standouts from an earlier period while "Twelve Samples" and "Four Guitars" shine new light on his music from the 1980's. Throughout both albums we can feel the joy running through the musicians as they become lost down new trails of melody and rhythm. It is not only with these late pieces that the group seems to be having the most fun, there are several new realizations here too; performed with an air of discovery and spirit rising from youthful hearts yet shaped by the hands of seasoned veterans.

This is not a burdensome modernization or updated version of the Ashra style. These concerts were more musical representions of the group at this particular phase of their exploration into sound. With an active and quite organic rhythm section (Harald Grosskopf), the tracks on both @shra 1 + 2 develop rapidly into showcases for Gottsching's stellar guitar solos and cerebral harmonic contrasts. At some point, everyone listening to this album will be struck buy the realization that this music cannot be traced back to an influence from the Berlin-school; rather these are recordings of music by the Berlin-school.

When Gottsching was first coming up with this music back in the 1970s, it seemed as if from the future, far ahead of its time. It is all these years later that we discover this description to be no longer adequate - his music is timeless.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   31 March 2002

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