ASH RA - BLACKOUTS (1977)
ambient prog and tropical wizard shreddery from kraut legends Ash Ra.
after Ash Ra Tempel (as they were titled in their first incarnation) played their last concert in 1973, the group remained dormant for a few years till re-forming as Ash Ra, a vehicle for more synthesizer based progressive rock music. Blackouts, their 1977 album, is a dense and dreamy recording. sparse and locked-in analog drum machine holds down the fort while floating thick layers of synths and delayed guitar shredding ascend high up into the far reaches of the atmosphere. the way the record was first described to me by my buddy nate was simply "tropical", which seems apt for a lot of the tracking on this record, especially so on the songs where the guitars sound close to hawaiian lap steel playing. the album does kind of have a "age of technology" computer vibe throughout too, and there are moments of total prog meltdown on tracks like "don't trust the kids", where dueling synths and guitars slowly build momentum till it all comes to a chaotic oscillating close. the triumphant closer "lotus, parts I-IV", almost plays out like a funky version of "chariots of fire" at parts, before shifting moods into darker territories, only to sail back to the beach for a victorious close. hammock music for coconut-cracking, acid-soaked summer afternoons meets computer wizard fantasy? you decide, i guess...