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CD Feature/ Akasha Project: "Cosmic Colors"

img  Tobias

“M-I-N-M-A-L. We’re Minimal”, the Pet Shop Boys declared in one of last year’s most irresistible moments of synthiepop and just maybe this song was playing on Barnim Schultze’s radio each morning that summer. His long-lived Akasha Project, which goes back to 1989 and has survived through almost two centuries in constantly evolving constellations, certainly relies on the power of a few, select elements per song and their hypnotic variation. “Cosmic Colors” is one of many good examples in a long list of albums which demonstrate Schultze’s abilities in funneling his personal philosophy and reverential influences into a highly effective danceable dream music.

He has certainly had a bit of time to refine his style. 1977, at the age of 14, he bought himself Kraftwerk’s “Radio-Activity” and Klaus Schulze’s “Mirage”, which served as first musical cult objects and as a source of inspiration, which is still audible in his music today. If you listen carefully, you will be able to trace back Kraftwerk’s sceletised beats and purposely unorganic trance states, as well as the reflective moodscapes and sombre melodies circling the same point without end to these five seven to fifteen minute long pieces with strong thematic appeal and deadly effective grooves. The difference with the retro-exercises usually associatied with aforementioned artists consists in the simple fact that Schultze is no nostalgist, but has witnessed the rise and fall of 70s instrumental electronics and the birth of techno first-hand and acted as a reliable underground force almost from day one. When he contrasts short reverbed organ stabs with jazzy two-tone bass motives, a four to the floor kickdrum and swelling and decongesting pads in “Moonflower”, it does not sound like a man desperately trying to catch up with time, but rather like a musician knowing exactly what he is doing. The same goes for the two Ambient tracks making up the core of the album, the eleven minutes of the increasingly intensifying “Venus Cloud” and the warm breaths of “Final Line”. If there is anything about these tracks which marks the Akasha Project as an old-school act ist must be the clearly discernible use of hardware synthesis, instead of building his sounds from field recordings, as has become en vogue this days.

The closing “Dreams” is not the sweet lullaby the title would suggest, but rather a slightly twisted amalgam of a few basically simple motives, which are all placed just fractions outside their usual contexts or positions. This track, too, is not reinventing the wheel, but it does show that Schultze is not a slave to his motto. He may be minimal in outlining his arrangements, but he certainly is never short of ideas.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Akasha Project
Homepage: Planetware Records

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