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Sextant: Lane & Ashera ====================== Brannan Lane just sent me a CD-R demo of this to review and I have to say, two thumbs up & bravo on this one! I have had this CD spinning 3 days straight on infinite loop at work and it is seamlessly perfect, relaxing, dream-inspiring, flowing, mysteriously "off in the distance" and a delight to immerse your brain in. Nothing is wasted, not a bit of cheesy synths, no distracting ethnic beats or psuedo- tribal attempts at trance-cool-schtick (thankfully). Sextant is pure bliss, an ocean of drones and distant echoes of very well-voiced timbres that tease interest but never overpower. I highly recommend this to all ambient voidscapes lovers. Set your psyche adrift as Lane and Ashera are seasoned navigators. I don't know how much of this is Lane versus Ashera but whatever the ratio -- it matters not -- it is perfect! Highest recommendations!! Now I wish this CD was more than just a naked CD-R with track list and no notes or art ;-P . . . . ~ John W. Patterson, Editor of ASMID moderator

ENVIRO Enviro by "Ashera" (Anthony Asher Wright) Self-published, 2003 It has been many months since I received this album for review, and only today, after many playings, have I finally been able to listen to this all the way through without either keeling over asleep or being interrupted by the phone, the TV, or the dishwasher. Not that this isn't a lovely piece of ambient; it's just very long (76 minutes) and very, very low-energy. "Ashera," or Anthony Asher Wright, is an Australian who has produced a series of high-quality ambient works over the last few years. He's very much influenced by Brian and Roger Eno and the classic Anglo ambient composers of the Eno school, and Enviro is even more Eno-esque than his previous ones. His textures are all polished and smooth and drenched in shimmering reverb, with hardly any rhythm. His harmonies remain sunny and tonal, mostly jazz and French impressionist-inspired. On track 3, "Two be Three," he uses an old-fashioned Hammond organ, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, to create a slightly ominous drone piece. My favorite piece on the album is the mind-numbingly ethereal title track 5, "Enviro," which features the drifting little-girl voice of Donna Van de Wijngaart over some sophisticated jazz chords. It's about at this point where my eyelids start drooping. The later tracks in this album are all lullabies, using vibraphone tones, bells, synthesizer washes, and the sighs of Donna to keep the listener, uh, where was I.zzzzz. uh, track 10 has an interesting environmental noise of some sort of farm machine, and track 11 moves back into built-up layers of those shimmering pretty note-clusters along with a few birdcalls. This whole album gives an impression of endless summer days with nothing at all to do but sit on the porch, look at clouds and meadows, and doze off. Sounds good to me here in the city in icy February, I know it's summer in Australia, and by the sound of this album, it's real, real quiet and peaceful Down Under.

Hannah M. G. Shapero 2/7/04 WE GAIA by ASHERA
We Gaia by Ashera Private production, 2001 Australian Anthony Asher Wright, also known as "Ashera," returns with another album of feather-soft, ultrarelaxing music. Wright plays the synthesizers and keyboards, while his friend Gary Brown plays a selection of vintage guitars, most of them electric.This is no "power sound" though ­ Brown drops notes into the pool one at a time. The sound is complemented by the caressing female voices of Valerie Willemsen and Caroline Wilson, who sound like angels in bikinis, the sensuous beauties of some impossible, perfect resort. There is no rhythm, only the slow wavelike undulations of note on note, gliding on a sea of reverb, with some understated percussion here and there or some nature sounds of rustling and tweeting. There is a definite Brian Eno influence in some of the tracks, but "Ashera" has a fairly characteristic style all his own. The Ashera sound is tropical, watery, languid, the background to fantasies of misty shores and shimmering oceans. There's hardly ever a "dark" moment ­ the harmonies rely on those warm ambient standards of French-impressionist eleventh and thirteenth-chords, or on even simpler notes in thirds. One standout track is "Mother…" which swathes the listener in fluffy layers of synthesizer chords, while clear little bells tinkle over the virtual cradle. The next track, "They are leaving," is quite different and is the closest that this album gets to "darkness." A weird alien mooing repeats in the distance under mildly foreboding synthesizer textures. Track 6, "Expectations," is a flood of ecstatic tones, almost narcotic in its intensity, and probably the best track on the album. The titles of "Reef Beach" and "Warmth" (tracks 7 and 8) speak for themselves ­ I'll listen to something titled "Warmth" any day. The last track, "Forward, In To the Light," drifts you off into a sun-kissed Aussie neverland. I highly recommend this album to those who yearn for a virtual vacation on a gentle, friendly Earth where nothing harsh or violent intrudes and nothing can go wrong. Hannah M.G. Shapero, 3/26/02 P.S. Thanks to "Ashera" for their kind mention of me in the album credits but they spelled my first name wrong. It's Hannah with a final H. Some proofreading is also needed in the titles: Track 1 is misspelled "…Begining" instead of "Beginning." Editor's notes: It seems "ANT" aka Ashera can do no wrong in spite of spelling errors, as John Patterson in the CD credits is spelled JHON PATTERSON -- oh well. What is superb is this MUSIC! I too received this demo and it gets repeat plays now alongwith my top 25 ambient listening materials At times I seemed to hear a stringed machine similar to one Jim Bartz is using these days so some of We Gaia had that Pictures of Earth and Space feel. This baby gets two thumbs up! ANT can do no wrong. Highly recommended for maximum zone out modalities. This is bliss. WARNING: DO NOT CASUALLY DRIVE ON HIGHWAY IN WARM VEHICLE WITH THIS CD PLAYING. (I nearly caught some unplanned, "off-road" zzz's one morning at 60 mph!) (^; John W. Patterson, Editor: ANT, you just keep getting better! Bravo! We want more! TOP PICKS

Cobalt 144 by Ashera (Anthony Asher Wright) Private production, 1999 "Ashera" is an Australian artist whose ambient productions are very much in the "classic" spirit of Brian Eno. You will hear the by-now-familiar sounds of Ambient in Cobalt 144: rhythm-less floating synthesizer or electric guitar tones, sighing and whispering wordless female voices, tinkling or rattling percussion accents, heavily filtered electric piano notes, bells, and environmental sounds. All the tracks are soft in volume, designed to be a kind of "audible incense" to perfume the environment.

Even though the style of these pieces doesn't offer a lot of variety or change, and they are (as it were) designed to be ignored, it is worth listening more closely to one or two of the tracks, because Ashera has added some smooth and pleasant tone-colors to his delicate mix. His chord choices are an ultra-diluted tincture of modernist jazz. Track 6, "144," which is longer than the others at about 13 minutes, is especially pretty. It drifts along on sonic shimmer with a few moments of heavier percussion and gongs, and at some points actually gets loud. Another longer track, number 8, "Ultima Thule," has a slightly "darker" feel but is also good listening. (Note: I think these are the titles; this album has the most unreadable type I've ever encountered on a CD cover.)

Like a lot of the more successful "soft ambient" sounds, these pieces give the feeling of gazing into a reflecting pool of water, which is occasionally stirred by wind, or by fish just below the surface. Ashera's music certainly does its job of calming the listener down; in fact, it can get downright sleep-inducing. It's best to listen to this album late at night, or at least at some time when you don't mind slipping off into dreamland. Rating: 8 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero 1/7/01 TOP PICKS

Ambient Selections by Ashera (Anthony Asher Wright) Private production by Ashera This 2-CD album, produced in Australia by Anthony Asher Wright and a couple of guest performers, is well within the "traditional" spirit of Brian Eno's original concept of ambient music. It is designed not to intrude, but to exist in the aural background of the listener's consciousness, and enhance calm or meditative moods. The album cover says "Play at lower level; do not operate machinery or drive vehicles." This sums it up pretty well. "Ashera's" sounds feature, in different tracks, whispers of synthesizer chords, gently tinkling bells, Australian environmental sounds, and crooning female voices. It's soft, really soft. Even if you turn the volume up, it's still soft.

One of "Ashera's" good points is that he picks good chords to float in. He likes modern jazz harmony, or perhaps a bit of French impressionism, all of it ever-so-drifting and ethereal, with that smooth shimmer that makes this kind of ambient so easy to listen to. There are a few slightly dissonant chords, which have a somewhat Roach-like feel to them, but even Steve Roach at his quietest was never THIS quiet. And "Ashera" stays well away from any evocation of either deserts, aborigines, or space; his track titles mostly allude to landscapes or nature.

Some of the more interesting tracks on the first CD are "Lullaby for Mother Earth," (which has a lot of wordless vocals on it), "Noosa Rain," and "Flowers of Colours." The second CD standouts are "Cyclic Balance" and "Astral Travel," as well as the mysterious and subtle (and sometimes so soft as to be almost inaudible) "Sotavento." These pieces are not dissonant enough to be "dark" ambient; perhaps "twilight ambient" would be a better term.

If you have listened through both CD's in succession, you will definitely be softened up, lulled, and half-asleep by the end. "Ashera" then wakes you up with the last track, an electronic sequencer piece, louder than the rest of the album, called "Spinning Dance of Joy." With its perky repetitions and rhythms, it gives the listener a gentle jolt back into waking reality. Rating: 7 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero 1/4/01 TOP PICKS

Ambient Selections is a double CD of some very gentle and subtle minimalism from Ashera, nee Anthony Wright. Caroline Wilson (acoustic guitar and voice) and Adriana Korkosova (vocals) support his efforts. This is quiet ambience at its finest. The deep atmospheres surround pastoral samples. The soundscape will mesmerize deep listeners and relax them. Extended deep listening sessions may result in profound awakenings and awareness. The CD liner notes suggest low volume listening and cautions against driving and/or operating machinery while listening. It is sage advice. ~ Jim Brenholts,

by Ashera (Anthony Asher Wright) Private production by Ashera "Colour Glow represents one the first releases I have heard in a long time that completely captures the spirit of Eno. This is music, keys, feelings, lilting treatments, and hazy moods that carry the Eno stamp of great melodic ambience. If EER were to offer the "ENO AWARD" for 2001, Colour Glow would walk away with it, contenders watching it pass by. Well done, Anthony! Two thumbs up. Highest of recommendations." ~ John W. Patterson, Editor Eclectic Earwig Reviews and Ambient Space Ed.

Colour Glow is a set of much livelier ambience from Anthony Wright, a.k.a. Ashera. a symphonic sound gives the CD more energy than his other discs. That fullness grabs listeners right away. The soundscape ebbs and flows and surrounds subtle nature samples and deep drones. Those drones are somber and compliment Anthony's symphonic synths expertly. The subtle samples, inserted carefully, give the CD character and charm. The whole package is delightful. This is a great CD and a welcome addition to any collection. ~ Jim Brenholts, TOP PICKS




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