Ashra - Belle Alliance (Vinyl)
Regular price €19,90
Vinyl Reissue 2004 Spalax Music
ASHRA was Manuel GÖTTSCHING's continuation of 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.
This is probably the best Ashra album after 'New Age of Earth.' It shares a few elements with that record - notably on the second side with its 15-minute 'Code Blue' - but it is also a more varied album, much more so than 'Blackouts,' as good as that one is on its own terms. The first side, which is faster-paced and heavier on the jams, sort of picks up where 'Correlations' left off, the key difference here being the fact that 'Belle Alliance' is a much warmer, more lush, and more colorful record (the first track of 'Correlations' was fittingly called 'Ice Train'). Gottsching's sweet-ass guitar playing really gels perfectly with his electronic leanings all the way through 'Belle Alliance,' in a way that re-embraces the new-age style seemingly abandoned on 'Correlations' at the same time that it reveals a rhythmically-trancier underlayer that anticipates Gottsching's solo opus, E2-E4. Essential listening for any Gottsching fan. Steer clear of the next under the Ashra moniker, 'Tropical Heat,' which ups the ante on the caribbean-esque stylings that were only a pleasant aftertaste on 'Belle Alliance' - but which winds up being a colder-record, even, that 'Correlations.' And a really difficult one to spin from start to finish. 'Belle Alliance,' on the other hand, is one of those you wish would just continue playing.