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Asura - 360


Jon Cocco
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Asura - 360
Ultimae Records
October, 2010



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1. El-Hai (featuring Ayten) (6:02)
2. Regenesis (6:13)
3. Altered State (Album Edit) (8:55)
4. Atlantis Child (10:56)
5. Erase (6:05)
6. Halley Road (8:45)
7. Longing for Silence (8:13)
8. Getsemani (6:52)
9. Le Dernier Voyage (9:48)
10. Virgin Delight (9:40)


360 is the 4th album by Asura. Ultimae Records released Life², Asura's third album in 2007. Although the first two albums were very well done, Life² was a beautiful, homogeneous release, filled with gorgeous, ambient/trance influenced down and mid-tempo numbers. Some listener's complained however, that a few songs had beats too upfront relative to the wonderful music. Fortunately, such issues have been addressed in 360. But where does it rank as a chill/downtempo release? Read on for more.


1. El-Hai (featuring Ayten) opens the story with a marvelous, ethnic influenced downbeat number. It involves beautiful, foreign, female vocals backed by a rich and atmospheric backdrop. Gentle instrumental sounds enter, in addition to vibrant melody/sound work, a tribe-esque drum composition/score, and what appears to be numerous, organic elements. The song is beautiful, dreamy, and infectious. This is a fairly simple song, but its lush atmosphere, elegant, ethnic influence, and sound produce a strong and delicious recipe. Excellent track. A-

2. Regenesis begins atmospherically. The first half of the song appears more ethnic, ambient-influenced via downbeat. The idea behind the song's direction here, reminds me of some of the incredible direction/work on 2009's Solar Fields - Movements album. But through the vision and sound of Asura. The result is equally stunning. Without dragging, the atmospheric world here opens up at around 3:27 to one of the most gorgeous melody/sound compositions. I initially had no idea where this was going, until it elevated my senses in the second half like a mid-tempo rush, burst of flavors. The melody work in the second half is superb, and makes every second leading up to it worth it. Outstanding track! A

3. Altered State (Album Edit) is a remixed, remastered, more homogeneous and enjoyable version than the previous one from 2008's Opus Iridium compilation. I felt that the beat was too loud/noticeable in that version, and took away from the song's potential. In that sense (among others), the remix is a big improvement over the original. Furthermore, the song seems to have more of a variety of structure than previous tracks so far. Beginning with warm, ambient notes, soon integrated into atmosphere, the song establishes a solid foundation early on before the beat arrives. A unique and catchy/mechanical sound effect that enhances the first act, and at 2:52, things really get moving. A catchy instrument around 3:50 works well with the driving rhythm, as the atmospheric backdrop gradually washes away the beat to accommodate an interlude. The transition here is smooth, and makes the song feel more substantial and whole. While the melody/sound work stood to me more on the previous track, this is a remix nonetheless. The artist has given new life to a vision that had so much potential to grow; such growth is realized here. This is an excellent, superior remix/version of 2008's solid/downtempo Altered State song by Asura. A-  A

4. Atlantis Child starts off with a gentle, ambient-trance influenced introduction. The beat kicks in to the smooth surroundings at 1:55. What appears to be piano drives enhances the warm rhythm. The first few minutes are great, with tasteful foundation development. My issue is the passionate, male vocal hymns that enter at 3:11. I love the melody/note, the idea behind the voice; I think the delivery would have been more effective (and less distracting to the music), had an actual instrument, such as a violin, or something creatively tweaked been used instead. Asura's work is just so immersive on 360. I feel less involved whenever the voice/effects appear. Around that (and they're by no means bad), the song's terrific. The middle section involves the beat switching up; petals appear to be incorporated. There's a distorted effect, most prominent from 4:34 to 5:00 that sounds great; it builds interest and flows well with the returning harmonies after a solid transition. The track ends with several more hymns that I'm just not a big fan of. Overall, this is great, if not excellent song. I simply wish the hymns were replaced with a complimentary instrument, as I feel less "free" to the music with them in. Great track. A-

5. Erase seems different than other tracks here due to a variety of psy-influence that includes some dynamic, faster-paced mixing. Naturally, everything unique here takes place with attractive sounds. There's not much of a lead melody in the first couple minutes, but the psy approach is catchy and compliments the album. After a catchy, crunchy moment, a more evocative synth arrives. The beautiful sound/notes provide depth and feeling. Towards the end, as the sound fusion is most strong (roughly 5:09) involves a brief, male voice / singing shout of emotion- which I find unnecessary and distracting from the song's finesse. I understand the concept of the artist expressing certain ideas and feelings through the music, to add, enhance, impact, etc. I simply found this moment least necessary here. I'm sure some listeners won't mind it, as it's brief- no make or break. The song feels less epic than some of the others, but allows for breathing in that sense like cleansing the palette with something less JOURNEY-ESQUE. It works! Great track!  B+ / A-

6. Halley Road has seemed to garnish a buzz on the internet due to its melody/sound work. It's like a sun dissolving the rainy clouds, or a transcending experience involving body, mind, spirit, and Source. If you've heard the samples, you have an idea of how great this song is. The track is surprisingly simple. The first half of the song evolves into an elevating score, buildup; the second is like where that ball of energy/buildup is released. So much is accomplished with so little here. Even though the song is set to one, continuous path, its heavenly sound and delivery is beautiful. Wonderful work!  A

7. Longing for Silence is (for me at least) even better than Halley Road. As with the previous gem, this compels in being simple, but has more layers, emotionally. The song tells a story, or chapter that is sad, and poignant. The song becomes very evocative at this point, with the entrance of what appears to be a gentle instrument coupled with subtle, female hymns. Remember the end of the film, "Man On Fire" with Denzel Washington, when he (John Creasy) gives his life in exchange for the little girl's? As the antagonists are driving him away, powerful music (like in Gladiator) scores the scene as the camera focuses in on John's eye. A song like this would work wonders in a scene like that. It's beautiful, sad, haunting, and contemplative. Superb track.  A

8. Getsemani is a provocative, mature ambient piece. It begins with thunder, dark clouds, followed by strong ambient notes that tell an incredible chapter to this story. There is so much emotion throughout the track. Upon hearing it, I have currently experienced internal imagery (and feelings associated with) a post-apocalyptic world. As the song plays out, I see a balloon floating. A little girl's shadow appears frozen in dust from a nuclear explosion, and a child some miles away endlessly on a corner, clutching his stuffed teddy bear. From death comes rebirth anyway, from "perceived" destruction is change, and without change, we remain stagnant, stoic, the same. That's what I get from the song anyway. From loss and sacrifice comes a deeper understanding of who we are (beyond our adopted ego). Maybe this philosophy, or at least the post-apocalyptic scene I imagined was not the artist's vision here. The latter likely wasn't. Regardless, there is so much feeling throughout the song. I'm sure many listeners will interpret the track different ways. I find it raw in emotion, kind of like Golgotha on the previous album, but more ambient-based. This track seems to have impressed my girlfriend more than any song on 360. She was speechless (in what later I learned was a good way; she was affected), and we shared our personal feelings associated with the song afterwards. Getsemani is powerful and superb from start to finish. A

9. Le Dernier Voyage begins with chilling, icy atmosphere. Since Halley Road, this album has gone from excellent to outstanding, a solid A from me. Anyway, the first two minutes involve a healthy blend of ambient-influenced rhythm. Intriguing tunes enter at 2:01. Not just any old tunes, but carefully selected, beautiful sounds like liquid flames in a world of ice. Another arrives and supports the blissful voyage, soon joined by numerous soundscapes. The backdrop simmers for a bit before the arrival of an even stronger band at 3:12. The first half of the song could almost be described as two solid, curiously integrated developments, before choosing a complimentary (initially invisible) direction better than both, or in other words, evolving. The sounds fade for a breezy transition that opens up to a beautiful, beat-driven part. From 3:50 forward, the track sustains strong formation, and remains gripping until the final seconds. Even with what appears to be some experimental work over the sixth minute (doesn't take away but) enhances the spirit with floating ambient notes. The final third of the song has an infectious, celestial/ambient layer that ever so slightly reminds me of the gorgeous ambient notes on Hallucinogen's L.S.D. track. In short, it's superb, and adds delicious icing to the current life. This is yet another example of the evolved sound I love from Asura. The song's arresting, without any vocal bit(s) to remove me from the immersive experience. Excellent track.  A-

10. Virgin Delight begins with a wave of dreamy ambient that takes over the senses in the first two minutes. I visualize flying freely above the clouds. The gentle beat arrives at 2:05, along with a sustained tune that initially stood out to me a little too much, but its grown me. It's here that I notice the influence from Solar Field's wonderful "Introduction" track on the Mirror's Edge soundtrack. I love the first 4:47 minutes of this song. I'd give it an A- to an A alone, but I'm looking at the whole. Many lush soundscapes and warm melodies swim throughout this creature, reflecting peace, freedom, love, and light. It appears that Magnus's gentle sound has been re-imagined to some degree, and the result is intoxicating. The female vocals from 3:41 to 4:47 flows beautifully with the other sounds. The beat leaves at 4:02, and beginning at roughly 4:48, a psy sound effect-driven interlude takes place. Unfortunately, the interlude seems too broken up, even a little random at times; it's ultimately less substantial, fulfilling, and confident than the previous section, and unfortunately off-sets the rest of the track for me. Maybe it's here possibly to reduce the sense of repetition. I feel that an opportunity to elevate the first 4-5 minutes to a whole new musical level of greatness (before seamlessly merging with the final act) has been missed. So in short, the middle segment is far less riveting and satisfying than the work around it. Otherwise, the song has many nice elements, a heavenly sound, is different in many ways than Intro on Mirror's Edge, and I've fallen in love with the first half. The overall track is simply not the masterpiece I had hoped to perceive it as.  B+


In conclusion, 360 is the best Chill/Downtempo album I've heard so far all year. Simply put, this is Asura's most passionate, beautiful, and best album yet. Some of the work is relatively softer than Asura's previous work, and this "less intense" with the beats (for instance) approach I find more effective, satisfying. The beats aren't too soft; they're simply less evasive as they were on a few tracks in Life². There appears at times some influence to Solar Fields - Movements album, but this feels like a true Asura release, albeit one that has evolved, improved dramatically (in some ways) from 2007's Life². My gripes are that I wish an instrumental sound was used in Atlantis Child as opposed to the male hymns (appearing at times). The "hymns" don't destroy the track; some people may enjoy them. I simply don't. Add that to a couple sounds, whispers (towards the very end of Erase). And the last track, though influenced to some degree from Magnus's self-titled "Introduction" song on the Mirror's Edge Soundtrack, could have done more to separate itself (and possibly triumph its beauty in the middle) from it. Aside from these few quirks however, the album is stunning. I could throw a dart and any track it lands on will be great; that's when you know an album is really special. The album is so beautiful actually, that it's hard for me to not recommend this album to virtually anyone into music, especially listeners of downtempo, chill, ambient, etc. This is one of those albums that I think almost anyone who hears it will either like or love. For the record, I have yet to hear a better Chill album in 2010. Asura's 360 was well worth the wait. It's fantastic.


Favorite tracks:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

A


Samples / Order

Ultimae
http://www.ultimae.com/en/releases/486/tracks.html

Beatspace
http://beatspace.com/dettagli/dettaglio.asp?id=5958

Psyshop
http://www.psyshop.com/shop/CDs/inr/inr1cd043.html

Goastore
http://www.goastore.ch/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=Asura+&osCsid=32d2f44b372c83fe061cae977e446400&x=0&y=0

Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/360/dp/B004784FUW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1289234600&sr=8-3-catcorr

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Posted Image

 

Artist: Asura

Title: 360

Label: Ultimae Records

Date: October, 2010

 

 

Chapter I - Before

 

1. El-Hai (Featuring Ayten)

2. Regenesis

3. Altered State (Album Edit)

4. Atlantis Child (feat. Charles Farewell)

5. Erase

 

Chapter II - After

 

6. Halley Road

7. Longing For Silence

8. Getsemani

9. Le Dernier Voyage

10. Virgin Delight

 

 

Is there anything more beautiful than that signature letterbox album cover? When dealing with this label you know you're going to get quality. The French have given the world so much...art, pastry, Gerrard Depardieu, Tin-Tin... Now this label which has released some of the best ambient to date shares their latest gem. Asura is Charles Farewell and this is his 4th solo release. Mr. Aes Dana (Vincent Villuis) who used to be part of this project isn't far away as he mastered this release and is responsible for the breathtaking artwork. A little girl spinning circles in a pool of water with a stick...cool. Charles has set the bar so high with his previous releases that the masses have come to expect nothing but the best from him. And I am here to tell you that the rating on Discogs might even be a little low...

 

El-Hai- I didn't like this the first time I heard it. Upon further listens the voice of Ayten was captivating. Her voice is beautiful floating above the tribal percussion. The strings and pads thicken the track up and you get a sense of how massive this disc is going to be. Not my favorite, but merely a fraction of what is in store.

 

Regenesis- Slow and steady win the race, as this spacious track unfolds. There is an outer space quality to it, but the effects keep it grounded. After the break smoldering melodies speak of a rebirth, the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. It changes the whole tone of the track. Outstanding.

 

Altered State (Album Edit)- This is the track with the highest tempo, I guess you could call it...ambient trance? Did I invent a genre name? Very spacious beginning with a forlorn flute amidst stratospheric pads. The pace picks up quickly with a sneaky lead right into the break. This could've easily ruined the flow, but that didn't happen. Instead it underscored how vivid and massive this story is. Well done.

 

Atlantis Child- Another slow mover with a kick and a string bass. It's an insistent thumping that soon is joined by soaring synths and sad voices. When the fast breakbeat comes in delicately it shows how Charles can turn a track into different directions without losing the overall feel. Gone quickly the melody weeps for what has happened or is about to. Lot to listen to here and it's well worth the effort.

 

Erase- This was the only track that didn't impress. Compared to his other ones here, this one showed little imagination and direction. There wasn't much variation or anything interesting per se, but perhaps it is used as a segue to the 2nd half of the tale. It's not bad, in fact it's quite listenable. Just not as good as the rest of the bunch.

 

Halley Road - This is a beautiful piece of ambinet. I love his use of the far away booming kick and the organic nature of the sounds. This is the dawn of a new age of prosperity or a quantum leap forward in space technology. So atmospheric further driven home by the samples. The strings soar skyward as the deliberate beat kicks in.

 

Longing For Silence- Whisper soft tapping of electricity brings in a slow beat and a soft hum of machinery. This is being adrift in space....alone. Melancholy and beautiful at the same time. Computers monitor my every life function and it is so cold. More melodies cascade along with a flute (?) that sings a song of regret. Absolutely engaging.

 

Getsemani- Melancholy pads and strings weave together a cinematic vision that becomes fuller with the passage of time. Booming kicks in the distance elicit far away feelings as heavenly angels sing from on high. The last part of this track could've been a soundtrack to the discover of America. I felt the vast openess of the sea as well as the plight of the Native Americans confronted with this terrible arrival. A wonderful piece of ambient.

 

Le Dernier Voyage- With a seamless transition, the waves crashing in the background, tribal percussion and strings paint a dreamy vision. Atmospheric twinklings are balanced with deeper effects to create such a rich, vivid environment. With the beat in place, guitar-like effects take the track in a direction I was not expecting, but fear not, it works out very well. Another superb track.

 

Virgin Delight- The final downtempo delight. Rich pads, little bits of synthesized heaven, drops of sound. Far away choirs mixed with computer bytes bring visions of an ancient religious service. I love the reverb and the echoing of sounds as it adds to the thickness of the track. Congratulations Charles you have bid farewell to the competition.

 

Remember when you first heard Golgatha? Charles took the scope and the vast possibilities of that track and created an entire disc with the same passion and strength. This album is amazing. It is so tightly packed with emotion, evoking such feelings of sadness and joy. He shows his skill in combining electronic and acoustic instruments painting a marvelous tapestry of sound and imagery. Some music in this genre can be taken at face value and you're done with it. With this effort there is so much to hear and experience that is never gets tired. This is Asura at his peak. If you are a fan of ambient or downtempo or music in general and want it to make you feel a certain way, then this is an absolute must.

 

Psyshop

 

Beatspace

 

GoaStore

 

Juno Download

 

Mdk

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Nothing wrong with the review except for one thing...TIN TIN creator Hergé is from BELGIUM. Yes we still are a nation for the time being...just wanted to get the facts straight. :D

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_%28character%29

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Nothing wrong with the review except for one thing...TIN TIN creator Hergé is from BELGIUM. Yes we still are a nation for the time being...just wanted to get the facts straight. :D

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_%28character%29

 

 

I'm sorry. I was on the fence about that. I learned French by reading and interacting with people and that character was on of the books my ex girlfriend gave me. I love Belgium! Cutest town I ever visited was Brugges.

 

Mdk

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I'm sorry. I was on the fence about that. I learned French by reading and interacting with people and that character was on of the books my ex girlfriend gave me. I love Belgium! Cutest town I ever visited was Brugges.

 

Mdk

 

You are forgiven. Keep on reviewing! :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you very much Jon Cocco and Trance2movU for your great reviews.

About what you wrote Trance2movU: "And I am here to tell you that the rating on Discogs might even be a little low..."

Even more when you know that several accounts on discogs were hacked. The account "zzzeeennn" ,for example, who gave "360" a 1/5 has been hacked. He posted me a kind message (with his real identity, I knew him yet) saying he is not responsible about that. I sent a request to Discogs to give him back his account and they cancelled my request within the day without a single answer. So my humble point of view: Trust your ears before trusting discogs ratings ;)

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Enjoyable release from Asura. Definitely an improvement on his previous effort. This along with Electrypnose's Sweet Sadness are the most impressive ambient psy-trance releases that I have heard so far this year. I think this is actual more fun than fellow label mate's Carbon Based Lifeforms's Interloper despite the latter's good knack for melodies.

 

Favourite tracks 1,3,4,6,7,8.

 

Recommended.

 

 

Pedro

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  • 2 weeks later...

360 is the best Chill/Downtempo album I've heard so far all year (I'll leave this open until the year's end, but it will be hard to top). Simply put, this is Asura's most passionate, beautiful, and best album yet. Some of the work is relatively softer than Asura's previous work, and this "less intense" with the beats (for instance) approach I find more effective, satisfying.

 

well said,

 

I was surprised listening @ this album.

I like it a lot,

 

Thanx asura

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  • 2 weeks later...

Posted Image

 

Artist: Asura

Title: 360

Label: Ultimae

Released: 10 October 2010

Style: Ketamine Trance, Ambient

 

Tracklist

 

Chapter I - Before

1 El-Hai (Featuring Ayten) (5:52)

2 Regenesis (5:54)

3 Altered State (Album Edit) (8:27)

4 Atlantis Child (10:33)

5 Erase (5:45)

 

Chapter II - After

6 Halley Road (8:15)

7 Longing For Silence (7:46)

8 Getsemani (6:29)

9 Le Dernier Voyage (9:14)

10 Virgin Delight (9:25)

 

This album is Asura and it is Asura done well as you would expect from Asura as he is himself. This is to say that while there is nothing new here, no groundbreaking stuff, no change in style (360 is still facing the exact same way) from Life² the music is still very strong. Just like in Life² there are some fairly ambient tracks and some stronger "Ketamine Trance" tracks, that is to say how regular trance sounds like if put through a Ketamine filter, with a connecting cinematic feeling running throughout. Occasionally the music can get a little too ethnic sounding, like it scarily did in the opening track which for me is by far the weakest on the album, which does spoil it a bit but is made up for in the quality of the non-ethnic parts, the parts that sound real and not clichéd.

 

It is definitely a grower, the first time I heard it I only really liked Regenesis, which is my favourite Asura track of all time now, but on repeated listens all tracks bar the opening track showed themselves to be very nice deep "Asura" tracks. The main problem is that opening track because being the first track it sets the scene for the rest of the album. When I listen to the album now, I skip the first track and go on to Regenesis because this way I have the album introduced as a wonder so the rest of the music fits into this wonderful setting and I find it more enjoyable. When I listen to the album with El-Hai as the first track I have a cheesy ethnic shanty shanty sitting in a shack with no shoes and no soul feel so the tracks that follow it are spoiled by the memory of the dirty hippiness of that opening track.

 

So don't expect any groundbreaking ideas from Asura with 360, if you weren't a big fan of Life² then I will doubt that you'd like this any more than that. If you thought that Life² was decent enough you'll likely be let down here as it is rather similar and decent followed by the exact same decent doesn't really do it for many people. If you loved Life² and are just desperate to hear more of the same then you will probably really enjoy this album. It is a good album with a lot of good tracks but it doesn't get as much air time as it would have done if it had had the same quality but had taken a slightly different direction. This album wold have been better as 270 or at least 350. Next time, I hope that Charles will grace us with something a little different as he certainly has the talent but just needs a bit more inspiration.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Abasio ;) I must admit I am a bit surprised by your review. Not that I want to dispute your taste. You didn't like "360" that much, it's your point of view, I have nothing to add. But saying it's almost a "Life²" bis or in a close style, makes me perplex, moreover knowing that, usually, you are a very accurate 'specialist' in that kind of music, and especially in the Ultimae one, and that you know how to appreciate nuances. The two albums are more than slightly different, according to me obviously, but according too to many reviewers or listeners. Not that it should be better, just that it is different, even if it's not a revolution of course, I won't make music of another artist ;) Anyway, thank you for taking time to review it, it's deeply appreciated!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some of it is really good, but there's lots of slow tracks with lots of just pad work and such ('yawnbient") - I have to be in a pretty relaxed and tuned in zone to appreciate this type of music though so I don't like this album as much as some of his earlier work..

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Hi Charles, thanks for taking the time to read my review.

When I say that it is similar to Life2 I mean the overall style is very much the same. Whereas each individual track is not something I am going to mistake as being on Life2, I feel that the overriding atmosphere was very similar. I did however like Life2 very much and this is almost its equal (just that first track I don't like much, sorry).

 

I have had Regenesis as my ringtone for the last 6 months too. Seriously love that track, my favourite from you.

 

I heard that you were thinking of an all ambient album, is that true? I'd love to see your talent focused into one full ambient album :wub:

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  • 2 months later...

2010's "Movements". Period. This release is absolutely incredible. Every track is pure quality. I very much agree with T2MU's words here and Cocco's ratings are spot-on.

 

I must mention Halley Road completely awe-struck me. Vintage space ambient. Just breathtaking.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...
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  • 1 year later...

This is the last SUPERB album I've heard by Asura to date. A beautiful, engaging, visionary journey full of distinct, highly engrossing tracks (or chapters in an epic, wonderfully told story) from start to finish. 

Still listening and loving it to this day. Surrender your heart and mind to this spiritual masterpiece and see where it takes you.

Around a 9.5 from me.

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