When a compilation of tracks by an artist is released, this is a clear indication that a substantial body of quality work has been assembled, from which some of the finest can be selected for what in this case is titled Anthology.
James Asher is an artist with roots in classical music, having grown up in a family, in which every member played an instrument, and he learned violin from age 7. This set of influences was then considerably expanded for him by two key features – training as a sound engineer, which gave him significant insight into the technicalities of music recording and production, but also the industry experience of writing 25 library music albums. This discipline of learning the language of music to picture offered a powerful stimulus to his composer head’s imagination.
After his first commercial release The Great Wheel had topped the UK New Age Charts for 2 years, he embarked on his first world music release Globalarium. In this he deliberately played with the idea of cross-pollinating a broad range of international cultural styles. Caribbean, Brazilian, Arabian, Native American etc etc would all find a place. This won the Crosspulse Bronze award for World Fusion, and blazed a trail for some of the imaginative stylistic approaches Asher would adopt, more led by how he read the musical potential than being restricted to the conventional categories and tags commonly applied to the music production process.
One of the next key influences that expanded Asher’s approach was meeting Vicky Wall – the founder of Aura-Soma – a personal growth system based primarily on colour and balance. This naturally involved an attunement to spiritual aspects, and afforded many opportunities to give expression to the inner worlds and more meditative aspects within the teachings.
Asher especially enjoyed the sense of kinship and community with the students he experienced in these sessions, and felt empowered by the collective intent and aspiration to crystallize some of this positive energy, as in Garden of my Heart for example. The track Dance of the Light, says Asher “documents some of the precious moments when my discovery of the spiritual world’s existence was dawning on me”
As luck would have it, Asher met the Australian graphic designer Rory Baxter working at Aura-Soma, who turned out to be a highly creative soul, who played not only didgeridoo but djembe too. This very naturally led to the album Feet in the Soil – which celebrates not only aboriginal energy and patterns but good strong tribal drumming energies too. Now viewed as a classic this has enjoyed the status of a bestseller, and remains popular today. Cooking it up from this is included in this compilation.
Drumming was a always a source of fascination to Asher, and having met the playful character Arthur Hull, considered by many to be the grandfather of the American drumcircle movement, the two teamed up for what would be a fun collaboration which would last till the present, lasting very nearly twenty years. ”As an artist, when you encounter influences and creative partners who encourage imagination, expression and inventiveness, what’s not to like?!” said Asher about this. The track Artherial is included, where Asher and Arthur employ a hammered ducilmer to capture some of the magic they had experienced at Stonehenge – a longterm favourite of Arthur’s.
Through Aura-Soma’s key connection to colour, Asher created musical interpretations of colour with Irish harpist Madeleine Doherty. The track Violet is on this compilation. Asher’s path has also see him enjoy considerable interaction with India. After producing his first Indian flavoured project Tigers of the Raj, a sizeable and romantic undertaking, he went to to collaborate with master drummer Sivamani in Drums on Fire, which led to meeting superb vocal virtuoso Mahesh Vinayakram, with whom he co-created Bravado Masala. Their track Lost Summer is included.
Drumming is clearly alive and well with Asher and the more recently released Shaman Solstice is included.As an added gem, the previously unreleased Rotunda further displays Asher’s sensitive and melodic side. Anthology offers a full and rewarding musical agenda.