Self-financed, self-produced and self-released (they also did the art), the semi-self-titled 2010 debut from Greek four-piece Dala Sun does nothing if it doesn’t stand on its own. Imbued with a spirit of hazy psychedelia, the fuzzy riffs of Harris and Byron (the latter who seems to have been replaced since by Hristos, or maybe that’s the other way around; the CD credits Byron with “prana,” the MySpace page lists Hristos on guitar, and the Facebook says they’re a three-piece), lead the way through the eight-plus tracks of engaging stoner fare on Sala Dun, shifting between songs from languid to upbeat pacing but always keeping in mind a simplistic feel, whatever noises and swirls and effects might crop up. The rhythm section of bassist Tolas and drummer Adreas feature prominently, particularly the former’s rich low end, which is rightly weighted in the mix and a big part of what gives Sala Dun their warmth. Song-wise, the material is straightforward enough to have an apparent structure, but loose-feeling and jammed out all the same. Harris handles the vocals and has a throaty but still clean approach that’s well suited to songs like “Fuck it Away” and the bluesier “I Have a Better Way.” He’s shouting, mostly, but with the overwhelming crest of the two guitars and bass behind him and the drums cutting through, his voice never really veers into the abrasive, and when he pulls back a bit into half-spoken proclamations, as on “In Evil,” the effect is a standout.
Sala Dun has several highlights, among them the helpful advice of “Fuck it Away” and the laid back opener, “Black Karmageddon” – which has that perfectly stoned ooze to its tonality – but the album doesn’t reveal its full charm until the sixth track, “Drunk.” With a sound that lives well up to its title, it finds Dala Sun (presumably drunkenly) singing the riff to introduce it before the song actually gets going, backed by Tolas’ bass. It’s a simple thing, and it doesn’t last long – just two measures, really – but the lack of pretense it shows, the willingness on the part of the band to not take what they do too seriously, does a lot of work in driving home the atmosphere and overall feel of Sala Dun, which is casual and fun, but still markedly heavy, like earliest Suplecs slowed down and dirtied up some. They also bring it back at the end of “Drunk” with some breaking-bottle noises for another four measures, to underscore the inevitable end of the good times. Coming off the more winding stonerisms of “Sala Dun Theme” and leading to the soft/heavy tradeoffs of “My Girl My Time,” “Drunk” is just right for its place on Sala Dun. The album has a few such moments, despite some songs being more memorable than others ultimately. The closer, “Electric Magician” hits six minutes in length thanks to a sample at the end and is the only song on Sala Dun to do so, so although they leave plenty of room in their material for an open feel, Dala Sun never completely fall prey to psychedelic indulgence. Listening back, to the leads that top the ending section of “I Have a Better Way,” I almost wish they would. Maybe just once.
They save room at the end of the 43-minute runtime for a punkish, buzzsaw-toned bonus track that’s the fastest cut on Sala Dun and vocalized only by samples. Its volume is considerably lower than the rest of the album, but the song has a cool vibe overall that fits with the record’s straightforward heavy/stoner mentality. That mentality turns out to be one of Dala Sun’s greatest assets throughout these songs – the guitar and bass tones are another, charm is another – and though the stylistic territory in which the band position themselves is undoubtedly genre-minded and will probably be familiar to those who’ve been around stoner rock or had experience with the artists and groups from whom Dala Sun draw influence (Kyuss, Clutch, maybe a bit of Truckfighters, etc.), it’s the personality the band shows within that framework that ultimately makes Sala Dun a success. I guess I’m late to the party on their 2010 outing, but like the best of the thickened and fuzzy, these songs are less dependent on being timely than they are on the meatiness of their own riffs. If you dig semi-psych heavy stoner and haven’t heard it yet, Sala Dun is easily worth checking out. Recommended.
Tags: Dala Sun, Greece, Patra, Unsigned bands