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Sula Bassana – Dark Days/Vibravoid – Gravity Zero


“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Sula Bassana - Dark Days“A very irregular head” is how the late, great Syd Barrett once described himself, and from the sounds blasting from my stereo Dave Schmidt AKA Sula Bassana could lay claim to the same quote. Dark Days is the fourth Bassana album, and wow, what a head-full it is…

Take off! And the album begins with “Underground,” a massive funky space workout with big deep bass notes and a riff that straddles the missing link between the Gaye Bykers on Acid and Kaptain Kopter and the Twirly Birds. This is a massive, blissful tune with some Steve Hillage-sounding lead that leads you nirvana bound on the out there lysergic highway. “Departure” has Hawkwind style wibble synths over some choppy guitar chords very much in a solo Barrett vein. When the track takes off with a big bass and drums flourish we are in straight-ahead space rock territory. At times during the track I could almost hear a slight influence of the Ozric Tentacles.

There are two major epic tracks on the album and at 20 minutes “Surrealistic Journey” is the first of them. A steady drum rhythm takes us into a sub-Doors/early Floyd organ part that has the mystical quality of wandering around ancient temples at dawn. The track pulses along like some mushroom-induced fantasy imbibed in the rites of this ancient sacred place. Then as it speeds up the ritualistic orgy begins, guitars and organ fighting for space amongst the maelstrom. This is trip music for the mind that will take you on a journey into the outer reaches of your own consciousness. When the track begins to slow we are back greeting the gods at dawn before a triumphal ending. “Dark Days” starts with feedback, clattering drums and atonal sounds before we move into its groovy riff. Mellotrons begin to build a string section of sound over the chords to take the track higher. This is almost a pagan primaeval sound of acid bliss.

“Bright Nights” has a subdued beginning after the bombast of “Dark Days.” Here large cymbals crash over subtle guitar and the echo traps them both in its ever-repeating world. Eastern notes begin to drip from the guitar like something heard from a distance over sand dunes then we build into a big powerful drone. This crumbles into a large slab of stoner riffage. The last epic is “Arriving Nowhere,” a cosmic travelling tune, where the guitar plays some funk wah-wah over a steady rhythm and the lead inspires us to keep on truckin’. We then hit some weird psychedelic noises on our travels, even though we are still moving the landscape has transformed into something quite surreal. We then emerge into the relative safety of a great space rock riff, and this time we are riding the cosmic winds. The album ends with the track slowly drifting off into nowhere. Another amazing piece of pure psychedelic rock from Dave Schmidt and one, I must admit, I would like to hear on the warm glow of analogue vinyl; a must.

Vibravoid - Gravity ZeroVibravoid’s album begins with “Gravitation Zero,” a strange outer space opening similar to “Astronomy Domine” by Pink Floyd until it moves us into pure ’67 UFO Club psych, complete with sitar and tablas. The words drift in their echo while the music takes us into a Siva temple dance at the end of the universe. “No Silver Bird” has a rolling bass sound under liquid lights guitar and again the vocals drift in a Syd Barrett way, pulling the piece together. “Photosynthesis in Darkness” is a great psychedelic pop song, three minutes of psyched-out bliss and some fine big riff guitar playing. “Travelling Without Moving” is a one minute atonal organ and guitar interlude with lovely echoed feedback.

“Eruptions of the Green Sun” is a marvellous rocker, again with its feet firmly set in the ’67/’68 underground rock mode and wouldn’t sound out of place on Tomorrow’s album. It is scarily catchy and you will be humming it long after the record has stopped spinning. “Shotgun Wedding” is an Eddie Cochran track that’s landed on the album somewhere via India on its travels and seems to have more than a nod to Love-era Cult. “Get Out of Here” is a fuzzed-out piece of acid psych that would get hippie girls doing wild dancing while strobe lights flash all around, with some great lead guitar. A cover of H. P. Lovecraft’s “The White Ship” is up next, and spiced up with sitar and Lesley speaker Hammond Organ it’s a trip into the darker side of the psyche as the ocean pulls us out further and further into the reaches of your mind. “‘Brainplane” is all Floyd’s “Flaming” tripped out on the edge of reality until it shifts gear into the mindfuck floating section and the LSD induced nightmare begins.

Bonus track “La Vie En Düsseldorf” keeps a metronomic rhythm in a NEU! style until we drift away into a more psychedelic angle. The second bonus track is “Radiation Zero,” a mammoth ten minute slab of kosmische musik that hints at Tangerine Dream’s Electronic Meditation album. Its noises spring jazz-like out of the speaker, like radio signals from outer space. This is the sound of the planets’ turning picked up by Voyager. I really enjoyed the album, on a cold winter (it’s meant to be spring) day it brought summer hues of colour into my home once more. Its certainly worth picking up to be transported to those heady daze past, and another fantastic release from Sulatron.

-Gary Parsons-

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