Marking a transitional period from proggy guitar-rock towards Berlin-school electronica not unlike what Tangerine had begun doing in the mid-’70s, Midnight on Mars was the second release from Ashra, perhaps the most noteworthy offshoot to rise from the ashes of Ash Ra Tempel (sorry).
These records were basically solo efforts from Manuel Göttsching, and the name ‘Ashra’ was basically just a nod to his former band – and one can assume also a conceited effort to link to and maintain the critical and (modest) commercial successes of Ash Ra Tempel’s discography. Göttsching’s guitar work is still the main voice on certain tracks, like this one, even if repetitive bass grooves, very un-rock drums and Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream-esque synthesisers and effects from the backdrop. Some of the other cuts from the Blackouts album lack such prominent lead guitar work, putting them even closer to the emergent, eighties cop show-anticipating electronica of some of their peers, but with real guitars and things in there and high up the mix, it all sounds a little bit more organic than what was to come . It’s not my favourite music of the era but it’s nonetheless an interesting intersection of early-seventies Krautrock, prog, elements of disco and the electronic sound that would later on be referred to as new age music. And very, very much worth your time.