Brace yourself for this. This might come as a surprise.
There’s a whole genre of music out there that you don’t know anything about. It’s called “EM” (Electronic Music), and it’s generally inspired by the likes of Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre. One of the finest EM musicians is Andy Pickford, and in 1996 he produced Asana‘s second album Trikuti.
Asana is the nom de guerre of UK-based solo artist Dave Barker. Following his largely unremarkable debut Shrine, Trikuti should, although little known, probably be regarded as one of the finest albums of the genre. It opens with a “little” three-minute introduction called Communion, full of bubbly synth arpeggios and slightly daft new age vocal snippets.
The second track is also a short one, clocking in at just under seven minutes. Signals opens with an analogue synth arpeggio, and swiftly builds into something entirely worthy of all the artists I listed at the start. The odd slightly naff sound here and there pokes through, but by the time you’re halfway through the track, it’s grabbed you completely.
Clocking in at just over an hour, there are just seven tracks on here, of which four are truly exceptional, and Union of Knowledge is the first of these. It’s a little dated in places now, nearly two decades later, but that’s forgivable. Again, it’s driven largely by synth arpeggios, with a few little vocal samples playing the melody from three minutes in. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to the sheer scale of the tracks on here.
The next track is the best on the whole album. It opens with gentle twisting pad sounds, a few light drums, and warped vocal samples, and then the synth lines start. There’s a clear formula at work here, but it’s a strong one. At the end of each section, the track breaks down in a different way before building back more defiantly than ever. Eleven minutes of music have rarely passed this quickly.
DNA Ritual is good, although perhaps a little less overwhelming. The general theme here seems to be some kind of alien takeover, and while I’m not entirely clear what’s going on during this “DNA ritual,” it’s still a good track. This one’s a little lacking in melody, driven more by complex synth lines, but it’s none the worse for that.
Seemingly it’s rather difficult to find the words to describe an album like this, which may explain the curious wording of this review. I found the title track Trikuti to be the weakest of the bunch, so I wouldn’t describe it as engrossing and beguiling, but it’s by no means bad either.
The final track is Unbeliever, and is another of the stronger pieces on the album. Generally softer and more chilled out than anything up to this point, it bubbles along for its eleven minutes with lots of pads and strong melody lines, before closing with another daft vocal sample, this time something about the nature of truth.
You probably have to have the right sort of taste, but Trikuti is a great album if you like your synth music to be full of pads and arpeggios, energetic but laid back, and very much inspired by the works of the pioneers of the 1970s.
The original version of Trikuti is no longer available but you can find the recent reissue (with all the tracks rearranged for some reason) at Asana‘s website here. You can hear more of this kind of thing on my September playlist Soundscapes, here, and there’s a guide to all of Asana‘s free output here.