Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Ash Ra Tempel - Schwingungen/Seven Up
Gottsching's travels through the eye of Shiva (whose gaze enlightens but also desiccates).
"The years 1972-1973 saw head Ash Ra Manuel Gottsching translating his heady psychedelic visions with two different Ash Ra Tempel lineups. With the departure of founding member Klaus Schulze in 1971, the group's lineup would remain in near-constant flux. Indeed, aside from Gottsching, the only constant on Schwingugen and Seven Up (the group's second and third albums, respectively), is original bassist/guitarist Hartmut Enke. Residing on the darker side of '60s psychedelia, these releases were portents of the darker decade that was just beginning. With hindsight, Schwingungen (1972) feels like the most fully realized of the pair, synthesizing the group's rock, electronic, and psychedelic/spiritual influences for genuinely chilling results. The astral blues drift of album opener "Look at Your Sun" comes to a head one track later with "Flowers Must Die." The song is a demonic, train-like blur built around a terrifying vocal performance from John L.; his guttural wail bathed, then submerged, in a wash of effects. The song is followed by the epic set closer "Suche Liebe," which builds from a desolate electronic landscape to a ghostly space rock mantra. For Schwingungen's successor, Seven Up, the Gottsching/Enke core is expanded to an octet through guest musicians and post-session overdubs. This group of instrumentalists is also joined by a series of vocalists, among them cult figure Timothy Leary, who adds spoken word on a number of tracks. The results aren't nearly as convincing however, capturing the group at the far reaches of their intergalactic travels. Regardless, Schwingungen is possibly the finest statement Ash Ra Tempel made before Gottsching dropped the name to embark on an officially solo trek in 1975." - Nathan Bush