Asana is one of the names under which solo electronic musician Dave Barker composes. Two commercial CD's, 'Shrine' and 'Trikuti' were released on the Neu Harmony label in the 90's. Dave also composes under the name Cerulean, a collaborative project with (now) Canadian musician/photographer Tim Darbyshire. Dave was a keyboard player with 80's pop band Fatal Charm, and he also worked as Musical Director in commercial theatre productions in the late 80's and early 90's. His latest releases include 'Dark State', 'Psychoactive', 'Lifestream' (Cerulean), and 'Conservation' - a compilation remix project featuring HeadSpace Technology.
As the months pass the influence of ambient on traditional EM becomes ever stronger. In many cases the result is unsuccessful, however there are a few examples which realise the potential which this combination can bring. 'Shrine' is just such an example. 'Saviour' is a fine opening track, well executed with a superb rhythm. As with many of Dave Barker's tracks there are a few versions of this track in existence. The version here is (Dub4) - should (Dub2) ever be released as a CD single I recommend you seek it out immediately. 'Ascent' contains some classic sequence lines intertwined with another hypnotic rhythm. 'Jupiter is a slower track with a penchant for throwing the woofers out of the speakers - "bass shy" is not a term I'd use to describe this track or indeed the whole album. The diverse elements of this track really do gel with repeated listening. 'Scan F' is the first track on which Dave really lets loose his trademark sequential filter sweeps. The effect is stunning when combined with such an expertly executed rhythmic tapestry. 'Dream' again features a number of diverse elements - quirky trumpet voices, eastern sounding synth lines, clever samples, a lazy beat and more completely brilliant filtered sequences. I'm sure SAL would approve. Then follows 'Shrine'. Classic EM sequence sections straddle a floating middle piece which has to be heard to be believed. Throw in a completely infectious melody and a track of sublime brilliance results. 'Radiant' confirms that Dave has left his real firepower to the latter stages of this album. The track features stunning electronics with a winding trail of notes cleverly picking out a shifting motif. 'Children of the Earth' closes in superb form with another hugely infectious melody. It reminds me somewhat of The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. The fact that Andy Garibaldi was involved with the production of this CD should give you an idea of its ambient credentials. And the way it utilises the more traditional EM elements is just as successful. This is a fantastic debut release which would sell like hot cakes given the chance. Be one of the first.
Asana is David Barker. This 71 minute CD features a tasty selection of spacey electronic music that is infected with catchy rhythms and flowing melodies. The electronics are lush and versatile, delving equally into energetic turf and ambient strains. The enticing melodics achieve a steadfast upwardly mobile quality, lifting the listeners from their earthly domiciles, plunging them through the thinning atmosphere and into the harsh but glorious splendors of outer space. Rushing past alien worlds, the music easily captures the flavor of these cosmic mysteries. Mix in synergetic E-perc, some heavenly chorales and periodic sampled vocal snippets, and the astral soundscapes adopt a peppier nature, one guaranteed to appeal to a human's need to move with the music. This 1994 release capably bridges the gap between ethereal electronics and dance sensibilities.
01. Saviour (7:43) 02. Ascent (9:19) 03. Jupiter (6:35) 04. Scan F (7:20) 05. Dream (6:12) 06. Shrine (12:26) 07. Radiant (9:40) 08. Children Of The Earth (11:42)
After slaving over a hot Jupiter 6 for more than two years, Dave Barker has finally released the follow up to the much acclaimed 'Shrine'. The phrase "ambient / electronic crossover" is quite widely used nowadays when describing some of the more recent artists to appear on the scene, and indeed when the music combines the most appealing elements of both the resultant mix can only be a winner. For me though, 'Shrine' stood at the top of the "crossover" podium showing in spectacular fashion what modern techniques and rhythms could do to traditional electronic timbres. Of course the only problem with getting it so right first time is that the follow up needs to be something very special indeed. Enter 'Trikuti'.... 'Communion' opens the album and is very much an exercise in gathering momentum and setting the scene, with thought provoking samples set against an undulating background. Soon mesmeric sequences start to flow, heralding the start of track 2 'Signals'. Then the bass laden beat kicks in and the track really builds up a head of steam. Play loud and proud because this music demands headroom to be fully appreciated. The drum lines batter against waves of sequencer lines which adopt pincer formations as they bounce around the soundstage. No time for breath as 'Union of Knowledge' takes off. Complex polyrhythms twist into the pulsating beat producing an emphatic piece of electro-acoustic dynamite which is charged with a wicked high register riff. 'Re-Embodiment' slows the pace slightly, adopting a confident stance and bombarding the listener with all manner of effects and electronic stabs, held together with another great leadline set against undulating pads. 'DNA Ritual' turns the heat up even more with killer sequences, resplendent with trademark swept filters, and silken melody lines which contrast starkly with the bass beat and stabbing hi hats. "There's Life Out There" proclaims Roy Schneider. If he'd have been listening to 'Trikuti' I'm not sure he'd have even noticed because so engrossing and beguiling is the title track that it blots out all distraction and demands attention. And 'Unbeliever' rounds the album off with more irresistible and infectious rhythms and sequences, immaculately executed to the finish. This is hip, kickin', stompin' and smokin' EM from start to finish. The old "anorak" adages are left trampled underfoot in an orgy of cutting edge coolness. The Ice Man cometh, and his name is Dave Barker. (GG)
With this 61 minute release from 1996, Asana investigates the origins of the universe "as we know it now" with techno-edged ambience of a lively nature. Brisk and enchanting, this tuneage sparkles with inspired rhythms and complex keyboard riffs. Sinuous E-perc and vocal snippets are present in the sheets of shimmering synthesizers, urging the pleasant melodies to snappier time signatures. Building from sedate tones, the melodies accrete rhythms and riffs until they are thick, surging sonic masses pulsating with alien-sounding noises and swooping keyboard patterns. The synthetic percussion acts like a melody-shepherd, guiding the music with agreeable tempos. The vocal samples attribute each song with hints of meaning, alluding to hidden cosmic knowledge, distant interstellar civilizations, and the aliens who live among us. These voice snippets are not lyrical, appearing only minimally.
March 15th 1997 saw the mouth watering combination of Asana and Synthetik appear at Jodrell Bank planetarium, and on this CD-R you will be able to relive Asana's performance in its entirety, except for the omission of 'Children of the Earth' which will appear on another album titled 'Enshrined'. I'm sure anyone who was at the concert will not need me to recommend this to them. The performance was simply tremendous, with every piece broken down to base elements and recreated afresh. The power, drive and energy of Dave Barker's music is totally infectious and could rub shoulders with the cream of today's modern ambient/trance/dance scene. Turn up the volume and its like opening the door of a blast furnace. 'Signals' weaves velvet pads around pumping rhythms, punctuated by a scything lead motif. 'Union of Knowledge' rides a frenzied bass beat offset by sequential detail and sampled slices. Totally outrageous. Enthusiastic applause gives way to 'Re-embodiment', here adorned with yet more sampled wizardry and the funkiest rasping sequence this side of an alien impostor. The juxtaposition of massive synth themes and laid back rhythms is a master-stroke. However, for out-and-out sequenced brilliance the CD debut of 'East' must take the honours. This track is quite simply breathtaking. It ricochets around the room like a high velocity ballistic, flooring all before it in a rampant wall of rhythmic energy. Once heard, never forgotten and should this track ever get widespread exposure it would carry all before it. It's an impossible task to follow such brilliance, but Dave could have made no better choices than 'Trikuti' and 'Unbeliever' which again get the full "mixmaster" treatment to stunning effect. Waste not one second longer. The altar of Asana awaits. (GG)
1. Communion - 6:37 2. Signals - 9:35 3. Union Of Knowledge - 9:46 4. Re-Embodiment - 10:34 5. East - 8:31 6. Trikuti - 9:54 7. Unbeliever - 10:32 8. Children of the Earth - 9:43
1. Glidepath 2. Seconds From Darkness 3. Colony of Pyrofolk 4. Audible Lifestream 5. Return To Dera 6. Metareaktor 7. Lifestream 8. Waves Of Ancient Sunlight 9. The Singing Tree 10. Propellate 11. Relusion