Jan 2015 25

Daniel Ash - StrippedDaniel Ash
Category: Electro / Rock
Album: Stripped
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: After 35 years, Daniel Ash remains as exciting and as innovative as ever with an album that re-imagines some of his best known songs in a manner sure to please longtime fans as well as newcomers.


For over 35 years, he has been one of the seminal figures in alternative music; whether for his wildly experimental guitar playing or for his sardonic vocal stylings, or perhaps even for throwing in a bit of saxophone, Daniel Ash has been one of modern music’s most engaging figures. Having defied categorization by fusing elements of electronica with punk, goth, and glam rock, Ash has earned the status of a living legend. In 2014, he embarked on a new solo outing with the help of his fans, launching a successful PledgeMusic campaign that would result in an album of revisited classics from throughout his repertoire. Originally beginning life as an acoustic album, Stripped took on a new life with the participation of prominent producers like Mat Mitchell and John Fryer and the collaboration of Dustin Byerley, making for an album that is as fresh sounding as it is familiarly appealing.

Immediately from the onset, “So Alive” will surely throw audiences for a loop with scathing warbles akin to EDM and dubstep giving way to a coolly ambient version of the song that plays well on its sensual vibe. Other well known hits from Ash’s days in Love and Rockets appear in equally divergent fashion, with the confident strut of “No Big Deal” appearing gradually after an eerie synth-laden intro, making for a slow burn that contrasts with the original’s immediacy, while the spacey garage rock of “Mirror People” is replaced by an almost insidious and insistent mélange of shrill synths and sustained guitars. Also notable is the new version of “All In My Mind,” the song’s post-punk moodiness carried by way of airy synths and slow, steely strums of guitar that perhaps bears more resemblance to the acoustic version first heard on Express, rather than it’s more upbeat original album version. Of course, Ash gives the Tones on Tail hit “OK, This is the Pops” quite the makeover with a lush arrangement of piano, buzzing synth bass, and that familiar pounding drumbeat that helped to make the original so widely loved. “There’s Only One” retains its urgent rhythms and groovy bass lines, but naturally given a much more electrified dance treatment, while Stripped ends with perhaps the most radically different incarnation, a dub version of “An American Dream” that is simply delightful.

Reimagining songs from his past catalog in a more electronic style might sound to some like a flight of fancy no different than the simpler remix treatment; however, the only song on Stripped that could be accused of this is “Love Me” as it seemingly retains elements of the original version, albeit sped up into a more danceable version. Similarly, while employing a sparser atmosphere and much more arresting synth bass, “Christian Says” relies heavily on Ash’s sustained guitar melody, so perfectly executed that it could easily have been lifted from the original track; then again, this perhaps speaks more to Ash’s musical proficiency, which is absolutely no detriment. Credit must also be granted for not going the obvious route and incorporating only one Bauhaus song, “Slice of Life,” adopting an almost more aggressively electronic and darkly epic feel, complete with glitch-laden percussion and bombastic guitars.

Stripped is very clearly the work of an artist not content to rest on his laurels and excited at finding new ways to interpret his own work, losing none of the appeal that made the songs audience favorites for the past three-and-a-half decades. As perfect for longtime fans as for newcomers, Stripped plays like a pleasant reintroduction to an old friend who has not only aged well but has remained as vibrant and as intriguing as the first time you met.
Track list:

  1. So Alive
  2. Love Me
  3. OK, This is the Pops
  4. All In My Mind
  5. Too Much Choice
  6. No Big Deal
  7. Slice of Life
  8. Mirror People
  9. Christian Says
  10. Come On
  11. There’s Only One
  12. An American Dream

Daniel Ash Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daniel-Ash/125497964157036
Daniel Ash Twitter https://twitter.com/DanielAshMusic
Stripped PledgeMusic Campaign http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/stripped
GO! Studio
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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