Caked in a foamy, lysergic head, the Sun and Moon split between French and German psychedelic trios Glowsun and Electric Moon practically floats into the ears. It’s just five tracks, but both bands jam their way to just below 42 minutes on the limited 180 gram Sulatron Records vinyl. Longtime followers of European psych will recognize the name Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt from acts like Liquid Visions, the underrated Weltraumstaunen, Zone Six and that bearing his nom de plume. Prolific as ever, he handles guitar in Electric Moon – who’ve also released two limited CD-Rs this year – and is the man behind Sulatron Records, while Glowsun’s guitarist, Johan Jaccob, is responsible for the art, which is no less colorful than the music contained on the record. The two bands mesh incredibly well together, one being entirely instrumental and the other being mostly instrumental and the both of them reveling in spaced-out, heavy jams. A relatively consistent production between the two bands only makes the transition smoother, and as much as Sun and Moon is a great way to be introduced to the methods of either band, it also makes it easy to appreciate how well they play off each other.
The subdued bass of Glowsun’s Ronan Chiron opens “Death’s Face,” following some spooky backwards whispers presumably from Jaccob, who handles vocals for the band when there are any to handle – which there aren’t here. An immediate trippy tone to the guitar work comes through with back and forth effects play, and it skirts the line between lyrical and annoying in the song’s beginning, but is nonetheless well woven into the overall context of the track, the structure of which is not completely open despite feeling that way. Glowsun keep to progressions of fours, and launch into a heavier, fuzzier, more directly-riffed movement in the song’s second half, Jaccob answering his earlier noodling with an engaging solo as drummer Fabrice Cornille adds a finality to each start and stop behind. Cornille’s snare is high in the mix, but rather than sound abrasive or overly bright, it gives the listener something to hold onto as the shorter “Lost Soul” goes further into stonerly groove and crunch. Jaccob’s guitar leads begin to take the place of vocals in Glowsun’s middle cut, but the vibe of Sun and Moon is such that it hardly matters. If you’re going to go with it, but the time you’re halfway through “Lost Soul,” you’ll be lucky to be aware enough of your surroundings to appreciate Chiron’s excellent fills or the subtle technicality the band puts into its winding finale, leading directly into the jungle samples that open “Monkey Time.” In listening to the animal sounds before the guitar kicks in, I can’t help but be reminded of what Orson Welles gave as his reason for putting a loud squawking parrot halfway through Citizen Kane (if you’ve seen the movie, you know the bird I’m talking about). He said it was there to wake people up. The monkey noises of “Monkey Time” have that effect somewhat, but everything Glowsun have presented so far has been so natural-sounding, it’s easy to read them as an extension of that. The jam that ensues only seems to underscore the point.
Curiously though, with the end of the song, we get ocean sounds, not more jungle noise, seeming to have switched locale as a result of the trip Glowsun has taken us on. Chiron’s bass closes “Monkey Time” among the waves, and after a breath, Bassana and Electric Moon’s even spacier approach takes hold. It’s worth noting that although Glowsun have three songs and Electric Moon have two, the latter work about five more minutes of material in their cuts “Trip Trip Trip” (8:46) and “Lost and Found Souls” (14:31). Bassana keeps his guitar mostly in freakout mode on “Trip Trip Trip,” periodically meeting up with bassist Komet Lulu and drummer Alex to drive a point home with Hawkwindian churning. Komet Lulu’s bass is more grounding than was Chiron’s in Glowsun, which is appropriate since the songs are less structured; that warm European-style low end provides a steady foundation for Bassana’s explorations, and Alex’s cymbals add a feverish energy as “Trip Trip Trip” winds down and “Lost and Found Souls” comes on, feeling more like a culmination than a summary. Taken as a five-song whole rather than a three/two-song split, Sun and Moon still finds ample payoff in the sprawl of its final cut; the ultra-distorted vocals that showed up later into “Trip Trip Trip” becoming clearer as the build progresses, offering the simple message, “We gotta stick together” in repetition as hypnotic as the minutes of weighted riffage preceding. And while in terms of psychedelic rock, the word “bliss” usually connotes bright toned guitars and sunny vibes, the über-low (but still smooth) fuzz in Komet Lulu’s bass just before the six-minute mark makes the entire track. From there, it’s onward to the noisy build, droningly effected vocals, rampant soloing and ultimate deconstruction that bring Sun and Moon to its close.
The European scene is awash in heavy jamming at this point, but for one of the style’s most loyal practitioners and supporters – namely Bassana – an outlet like Electric Moon is not only expected, it’s pretty much mandatory. Their partnership with Glowsun for Sun and Moon is smooth, each band offering a distinct take on a common idea and showcasing a chemistry unto itself, while also sharing the ethic of jamming out on heavy riffs and noises basically for the simple love of doing so. For its lack of pretense, chill atmosphere and the irresistible flow it creates, Sun and Moon gets a hearty recommendation for anyone who might need either anger management or their minds expanded.
Tags: Electric Moon, France, Germany, Glowsun, Sulatron Records