Thursday, 9 February 2012

REVIEW: Ashan - To Return To (Inner Islands)

Sean 'Gkfoes Vjgoaf' Conrad's side project Ashan follows up last years single track Peace of Joy album with four long pieces of meditative acoustic trance. Ashan differs to the Gkfoes material in being less concerned with the physical realm, instead submitting itself to themes of love, peace, emotional tranquility and transcendence.  The album is inspired by the book Ashan: The Gentle Way, a spiritual tome about "The vibration of creation, of harmony, of unification, and of love."  No matter how cynically you want to view these themes, Conrad's embracing of this kind of flower power ideology is thoroughly sincere, as is the music he creates in thrall to it, and musically the resulting pieces probably work even better than the Gkfoes material because of it.  The vocals in this album bestow it with a greater sense of wonder, Conrad's partner Rosa Beach-Mason and Braden McKenna contribute additional chanting and campfire lullaby madrigals to the tracks. You can imagine this being performed in a circle, the three performers locked into each others eyes and deeper, lost in an infinitely stretching moment of communion.  There's a tangible resonance to the pieces that recalls Incredible String Band at their most spiritual, and these tracks sound like some of that band's finer, most elegantly concisely moments locked into spiralling patterns and repeated until trance state is achieved.

I don't really know who's making music of a similar style to this at the moment, maybe High Wolf at a push, but his is all tropical and steamy, this just goes for the soul and there's no one coming close to producing the effect that Conrad is capable of inducing. If you're in doubt as to what any of the above means, just get playing the stream below and realise I'm saying it's far out amazing.

Order the CD from the Inner Islands Bandcamp HERE

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