Ashram Poets

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A brief and selective history of the ASHRAM POETS

Formed from a musical association spanning over two decades, the members of the Ashram Poets, Peter Long and Greg Vincent, decided back in 2006 to retire their six-strings indefinitely and dive headlong into the world of loops, beats and electronica. With a combination of ingenuity, experimentation and self-admitted ignorance of electronic music conventions, they arrived at a sound completely their own by stripping back guitar, bass and drums arrangements to the basic elements of feel and melody. Cutting up loops from old recording sessions yielded new grooves and textures, gradually revealing a new electronic aesthetic emerged from previous rock and pop sensibilities.

The Ashram Poets defy initial categorisation, though happily wear their influences on their sleeves: from the tripped-out keyboard sequencing reminiscent of The Stranglers through to Happy Mondays-esque grooves and the minimalist approach of Massive Attack, the Poets are joyfully eclectic. Their influences swing wildly from the gritty Tom Waits-like drum and bass workout of Sex In Her Step to the dreamy, Air-like quality of Seize, to the Madchester rave of Mortalised and the quasi-eastern overtones of Corpios. Underscoring all however is an assiduous attention to melody, addictive hooks and infectious grooves.

Greg Vincent started his musical sojourns in his first band Primitive Painters, cruising the bass role with guitarists Rod Tyler, Dave Norris and drummer Michael Heath, with the Painters gaining a solid following in the Adelaide independant music scene of the mid-80s. He then formed the power-pop Fortune Tellers with school friends Steve Fieldhouse and Dave Bosanko, releasing their debut mini-album First Light as the re-titled Morning Glory in Sept '88 through Greasy Pop Records. Splitting after musical differences the following year, Greg took on the guitar role with his next project Cartoon in 1990, with ex-Fortune Tellers vocalist Pat Loughry.

Greg disbanded Cartoon in '91 and re-hooked up with Rod Tyler in '92 to form the more experimental Puppethead, signing with Zuma Records in Germany for a European release in 1992, with the self titled Puppethead debut receiving warm responses in Australia and Europe. Rod parted company in '94 and Puppethead was in limbo until Greg hooked up with guitarist and drummer Peter Long, whom he had played with briefly in a lineup of the Primitive Painters.

Puppethead recorded another two albums for Zuma, Lizardland in '96, and Breathe in '98. building a solid fan base both in Australia and Europe. Puppethead once again stalled as Peter moved to Melbourne in 1998 and Greg moved to the UK in 2000. Finally reunited in Sydney in 2002, they attempted to reignite the Puppethead flame, but ultimately decided to discontinue the project in 2003 after losing interest in the musical direction they were taking.

Parting ways again - Greg to Adelaide, Pete to the Blue Mountains - it wasn’t until late 2005, after listening to aborted recording sessions in Sydney from two years before, that the duo decided to start afresh with a more stripped back electronic approach, and utilising the knowledge gained from some twenty years of performing and recording together, the Ashram Poets were conceived.

Peter Long served his musical apprenticeship as lead guitarist in Adelaide pop outfit Primitive Painters from 1987, briefly performing with Greg before releasing the Sea Of Art album through Greasy Pop/Festival Records in 1990. He went on to collaborate with Greg in the more experimental electro-pop of Puppethead, releasing a further two albums through German label Zuma. Needing to break from the Adelaide band scene, he relocated first to Melbourne in '96 and then to Sydney in '98, where he formed the power pop Resounder with singer Pat Loughry and ex-Ratcat bassist Amr Zaid, as well as playing drums in Zaid's outfit, Ampersand.

Peter hooked up with Greg again in 2000 to tour Puppethead in the U.S. and U.K. and upon returning to Sydney in 2001 teamed up with Resounder drummer Rene Arriagada and bass player Jo Herbert to form the avant-pop Bümbüm in 2001, amusing Sydney audiences with an oddball mix of indie rock, eastern tonalities and electronic toys. Due to internal differences Bümbüm split in 2003 and Peter relocated to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. He soon fell in with the infamous mens a capella group Spooky Men's Chorale and is currently a performing member, touring as far afield as the U.K.

In early 2004 he committed a backlog of material over several years to tape and released his solo album Midday Sun in 2007 to glowing reviews. After a long hiatous, he dusted off the recordings made with Greg a few years previously and the pair went to work on tracks for a new album. Peter has also produced the cover artwork and a number of videos for the Ashram Poets debut Corpios.

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