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Electric Moon – Inferno/Sula Bassana –Dreamer

Sulatron

Electric Moon - InfernoI am already a fan of the wonderful Electric Moon after hearing both their 2010 début album Lunatics and last year’s monumental live double LP Cellar Space Live Overdose, so I was eager to give this new album a spin. For starters, the cover is a wonderful psychedelic creation that gives a nod to some of best artwork from the late ’60s and early ’70s. What we have on the album is two massive slabs of out-there music that roll in near the 70 minute mark.

Track one is “Mental Record,” which starts very slow and spacey, with echoed guitars playing over a strong but subdued bass riff while the drums scatter around in a jazz fashion. Soon this builds into a torrent of heavy lead guitars as the bass and drums pick up pace. Here we enter into Acid Mothers Templestoner rock territory, and if you can picture Earthless playing with Hawkwind you can imagine the glorious noise coming from the speakers. An almost Sonic Youth guitar passage plays an underlying riff and we venture out beyond Saturn’s rings into hyperspace. This is the closest thing I’ve heard to pure LSD music in a good while. The track finally drifts off into a subdued void that brings the trip to a pleasant end.

Track two is 52 minutes of “Inferno.” Starting with subtle Jerry Garcia-style guitar noodling that gives it a laid back summer feel – like sitting by a stream contemplating the universe – while drums and bass play a rolling “Set the Controls”-style rhythm. There is something earthier about this opener than the previous track. Slowly the piece begins to build with wah-wah guitar before hanging organ notes drone away beneath the building chaotic rhythm. This is true freak out music. It’s from the earth that this track blasts off and suddenly we are heading elsewhere beyond the atmosphere of our planet. The playing here by all three members is exceptional and they manage to keep a forward momentum in the track, pushing it to its next phase. This is pure cosmic music that has the power of a rocket ship pummelling through space to reach an unknown world. 20 minutes in and the track takes a step down so that the spaceship’s passengers can enjoy the view. The track constantly builds then falls back into hyper nod mode. A massive crescendo builds, but in the end the rocket is left drifting into the void of the stars. It’s an amazing ride into the outer worlds.

Sula Bassana - DreamerSula Bassana‘s Dreamer is a slightly different kettle of fish; for starters it’s a solo album by the Electric Moon guitar player and is song-based rather than instrumental. This is also a tenth anniversary re-release on both CD and vinyl.

Starting with the title track, we open with an almost Arthur Brown-sounding Hammond organ, and are soon thrust into a more progressive vein with psych guitar and Mellotron under a whispered vocal. This is real late ’60s-inspired psychedelia, which somehow merges British underground sounds with West Coast-style guitar, and is a very strong opener.  Second track “Dealer McDope” is a nod, I assume, to the Dave Sheridan cartoon character. This a true space rock tune with whining synths and a great heavy riff. By the time flanged vocals come in we are heading straight to the head shop to score. “My Blue Guitar” starts with a laid back rhythm under desert guitars that sometimes spill over into Dave Gilmour territory. Think Meddle-era Pink Floyd and you’re not that far off as the organ plays gentle chords under a soaring lead.

A drone starts off “Nervenlaehmung,” then a bass synth and chants take us off to the scene of an ancient ritual being played out on another world – it sounds like a soundtrack to a Richard Corben book. The longest track on the album, “Ananda,” starts with a rolling Nick Mason-style drum pattern over wailing sax and Eno-esque electric piano chords. For the first time the album takes on a melancholy, moody air. This is the closest thing to the ambient sounds of Michael Brook until a sitar-sounding guitar comes in and we are firmly in the land of meditation. By the end of the piece a big electric guitar note smashes in to take us away from our trance. “Baby Blue Shuffle in D major” is a Pink Floyd cover and certainly has a sound rooted in the Syd Barrett psychedelic era of the band and is played with aplomb, with Sula doing an excellent Roger Waters bass rumble.

Two bonus tracks are added to the CD release. The first, “Perry Rhodan,” is a UFO Club foot stomper with scary alien-sounding Theremin over organ and a great beat on the drums. Think Dukes of the Stratosphere meet a ’60s sci-fi theme tune here. The last bonus is a cover of Floyd’s still-unreleased Barrett era track, “Vegetable Man.” It’s always hard to review a cover of a song that you have known and loved for years, but here Sula captures the essence of the band in full Saucerful of Secrets mode by slowing the track down to a “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” pace rather that of the frantic original.

The man behind both these releases (and the Sulatron label)  is guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Schmidt, who should be being hailed as a new psychedelic god with these wonderful albums. Buy these two – but wait; there is more to follow…

-Gary Parsons-

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