Asura

Lost Eden

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

Asura is an accomplished worldbeat trance trio whose French origins would explain the general but pervasive debt to electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre displayed throughout this CD. Synthesized keyboards and sequencers, presumably provided by group leader and producer Charles Farewell, capture Jarre's signature combination of ambient bliss and infectious groove. A noticeable Klaus Schulze influence emerges as well on the brooding, melancholy "Requiem From Nowhere" and "Le Vol d'Icare," which feature minor keys and a cavernous sampled choir. Group member Curtis Maze supplies ethereal flute; his presence on the opening of "Land and Freedom" may briefly evoke one of Kitaro's mellow soundscapes, but Asura's music is generally too groove-oriented to fall into the new age category. Bassist/guitarist Alexandra Ackerman deepens the groove, which is also strengthened by electronic percussion of a type and quality that was generally not available for earlier electronic music artists such as Jarre and Schulze. And since Asura's intent is by no means self-consciously retro, they're not shy about the use of contemporary vocal sampling. The presence of Turkish chanting on the title piece and "The Battle of Devas" perhaps comes a little too close to territory already staked out by Banco de Gaia on recordings such as Last Train to Lhasa (to the untutored Western ear, samples of Turkish and Tibetan chanting don't really distinguish themselves from one another when they're integrated into similar ambient techno settings). However, "The Battle of Devas," in particular, represents a nice synthesis of Jarre, Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Banco de Gaia, and when all is said and done, it compares favorably with any of its various influences. The eclectic nature of Asura's presentation is further reinforced by the use of a thudding hip-hop beat and sampled female house vocals on "Raindust." It's the only such gesture on the CD, and boundaries are stretched even further when the sampled house diva begins to trade stanzas with the sampled Turkish vocalist. Elsewhere, African vocal samples are used on several tracks, as well as the previously mentioned sampled classical choir. This wide-open, indiscriminate appropriation of cultures and ethnic influences could (and has been) criticized as superficial, but since Asura doesn't seem to have any agenda beyond creating elegant, sophisticated ambient trance music with a world music flavor, they should be judged only on the quality of their execution. And if that's the criteria, this recording serves them well.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
5:53
2
4:16
3
4:25
4
5:16
5 3:55
6
9:53
7 3:38
8 10:13
9 10:16
blue highlight denotes track pick