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Review: 'Reaks, Ashley'
'Power Failure'   

-  Album: 'Power Failure'
-  Genre: 'Indie'

Our Rating:
Ashley Reaks’ bio is unusual to say the least: ‘Born wrong, collage artist, punk rocker, public schoolboy, promising ex-cricketer, adult child, lower league football fan, dole-wallah, therapy survivor, dedicated non-jogger, reality-avoider, disturbed child, reluctant church boat boy...’ No mention of his previous career with The Younger Younger 28s, and nothing that really indicates the full extent of the far-reaching eclecticism his latest offering, ‘Power Failure’ (although a brief look round his website contains plenty of clues. His collage work is truly striking, if not a little disturbing).

This is no bad thing: art in all its forms should be challenging, and Reaks challenges on many levels, not least of all on a sociopolitical level. This permeates into his music, although ‘Power Failure’ succeeds in being neither in your face or preachy – or remotely predictable, for that matter.

Chilled-out brass emerges from an eerie-sounding tinkling dissonance on ‘Lucky Gordon’, although the overall result is more nightmarish than dream-like, and of the rolling keys of the catchily-titled ‘No Wonder Camels Spit’ sound like a fragment of a postmodern reimagining of ‘Tubular Bells’, then the glitch-reggae of ‘Bulldog Grace’ manages to resemble Sting’s ‘Englishman in New York’ pulled apart and glued back together with a deep urban vibe.

Ska and jazz collide on ‘The Glance of Mercy’, and on ‘Karma Bonfire’, guest vocalist Joe Hakim rants and meditates on contemporary life. It’s half Beat poetry, half The Streets... and then it goes bollywood. ‘Skin Crawl’ pops and shudders along to a tidy sub-groove, and despite the title and lyrical content, it’s a surprisingly accessible song. Yes, ‘Power Failure’ may be experimental and at times so hybridized as to bewilder the listener, but Reaks never loses sight of the importance of a song, and he’s got some decent tunes tucked away in here.

Ashley Reaks Online
  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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Reaks, Ashley - Power Failure