Culture is always under threat, it is the way some find easiest to deal with thoughts that frighten them, the enlightened, the free thinkers, the progressive, the radical, call them what you will but some people like to stamp down on such liberal and open to new ideas, not because they are necessarily evil, not because they are even frightened of the possibilities such art would take but because they have become too entrenched in their own opinions and intolerance to change. Culture is not vapid, it is not weak, but it is fluid, it is all about acceptance and being inspired by any member of society who can find art in the beautiful.
Art is beautiful any where you care to look and for Ashley Reaks the cause is always just and the inspiration is not unlike the first taste of champagne that hits the lips like a gentle kiss but has so much more waiting underneath. Ashley Reaks has gone beyond the idea of loss of culture which dominated with absolute glory and sensitivity in his previous album and taken a gigantic leap forward with his latest offering, the fantastic Growth Spurts.
Supported by Maria Jardardottir on vocals, Nick Dunne on E-Bow, guitars and piano, Joel Purnell on sax, Oliver Dover on the wonderful sounding sispi, duduk and clarinet and Dave Formula who provides the sound of the dangerously exotic keyboards on the spoken word, Kerouac/Ginsberg like The King Blows His Horns, Ashley Reaks takes culture to another level, the mix of the delicate and eloquent crashing beautifully against the confident and the possessed, this is not an album shrouded in the timid or the coy, this is the type of album which not only refuses to leave your face, it has the right to be there as well.
In tracks such as Metal Fang, Slugs and Snails Forever, the aforementioned The King Blows His Horns and I Want to Live In Morphine, Ashley Reaks strides with tremendous ability through a once though foreign landscape and reveals an indomitable side that is not only musically cool but passionate as well. A selection of great tracks which are grounded and bold, everything you could expect from somebody enjoying their time at the helm.
Ian D. Hall