Love Letter To A Record: Dan Kelly On Ashra’s ‘New Age of Earth’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Dan Kelly – ‘New Age of Earth’ By Ashra (1977)

If I work days in Melbourne I usually jump on the 6:01am from Castlemaine Station to Southern Cross. I’m not one to get on the laptop and do amazing work at that hour, so my basic plan is to either get back to sleep or at least get into some kind of dream state for the hour and a half trip ahead of me. This is where New Age of Earth by ASHRA has been my saviour album over the last year.

ASHRA is the solo project of German guitarist Manuel Göttsching and an extension of ASH RA TEMPEL, his excellent Deutsche Electronische band of the early ’70s. I could use a lot of annoying music critic references but essentially this album is like getting a dawn train across the cosmos as your mind is bathed in the glow of a thousand sunrises.

The beats are kind of pre ambient techno and essentially sound like the clicking and clacking of locomotive wheels on the tracks. I just looked up ‘train sounds’ on wiki and words they suggested, like ‘Nyoooom’ and ‘Flange Squeal’, are pretty ideal descriptions of what the synthesisers on this record can do to your brain pathways.

If I time it right, the V Line starts ascending the Macedon Ranges just as the second track ‘Ocean of Tenderness” kicks in, and riding the hills feels like ascending through a kelp forest on the back of a very kind jellyfish. Sometimes I look out the window at the frosted fields and see the odd ghost Kangaroo. By the time we’re travelling through Melbourne’s gorgeous grey outer suburbs the album is just wrapping up its final track ‘Nightdust’. I feel temporarily zen and ready to face the usual horrors of internet headlines/peak hour trams/mass extinction/work etc.

New Age of Earth is sweet pre-digital mid ’70s and rolls quite organic. The guitar playing is particularly astral and relaxo. It’s definitely not psychedelic trance if anyone is worried about that. I’ve listened to this record at least 50 times since I became fully regional and I often crave it a bit even when I’m completely awake and in the city.

That’s kind of love in a way?

Thank you ASHRA.

Dan Kelly will head out on a 15-year reunion tour with his band The Alpha Males this December. Dates below.

Dan Kelly Tour Dates

Saturday, 7th December

The Gasometer – Melbourne, VIC


Sunday, 8th December

The Gasometer, Melbourne VIC


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