Electric Moon, Mind Explosion: Into the Outer

German improvisors Electric Moon are rarely at rest, and for anyone who’s been following the jam-minded three-piece’s progress these last several years across their slew of studio and live albums, the latest of them, dubbed Mind Explosion, marks yet another interesting turn. When it comes to the band, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist/recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/visual artist/sometimes-vocalist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, the surest bet you can make about any given release is that it’s going to be the most psychedelic thing you’re going to hear that day. That said, I’ve always taken their sound to have more to it than just that, and likewise the band’s mission, which seems geared toward driving at the very heart of sonic collaboration between committed players. Schmidt, Lulu and Schnitzler avoid missteps along the way and get to the center of the galaxy of jamming. Their concoctions — Mind Explosion presents four of them, for a total of about 80 minutes — are hypnotic, swinging, exciting and saturated in shroomic properties. What stands Mind Explosion out from the catalog is that it’s a live album that basically serves the same function as a studio full-length would. Electric Moon are no strangers to live releases; plenty have shown up on LP, CD and limited CD-R from Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records. But where outings like the two-volume Live 2012 CDs (review here) were essentially live bootlegs, the presentation on Mind Explosion is like that of a complete studio outing. It’s bridging that gap.

And in so doing, it’s continuing Electric Moon‘s journey into the sort of creative Big Bang that drives heavy psychedelia to start with. Why can’t an album that would be recorded live just be live on stage? Why can’t an album be a live album? Why does there need to be a distinction from one to the other? The four tracks of Mind Explosion — “Trip to the Moon” (21:45), “Kaleidoscopeephole” (22:14), “The Picture” (17:04) and “Mind Explosion” (18:50) — offer plenty of time to explore these questions, and but for the periodic interjections of crowd noise, shouts in the middle of especially engaging turns, etc., there’s very little to separate the album from anything Electric Moon have jammed out in the studio. In terms of the sound quality, it’s probably Schnitzler‘s drums that most give it away, but his cymbals sound full and have no problem creating a wash to back the spaced-out effects work from Lulu and Schmidt, who also come through clearly. Together, they ride the jams out as far as they want to go, riffs and leads topping sure-footed rhythms — the bass-tone that begins “The Picture” is as much a foundation for the song’s unfolding as one could ask — in a dynamic that has only grown over time. They’re never overly technical or looking to put on a clinic as much as a show, and part of what makes Mind Explosion successful as a release even into its later reaches is the band’s sense of bringing the audience with them on these sonic voyages. As far out as it is — and it is — Electric Moon‘s sound never lets go of also being inviting.

Each of the four pieces finds its pocket, but none stays there longer than the moment warrants, and a sense of movement is maintained across the release. To call it a full-album flow wouldn’t be wrong, but neither completely fair — if Electric Moon hadn’t locked in well when this was recorded, Sept. 25, 2013 at Graf Hugo in Feldkirch, Austria, it probably wouldn’t have been released — and with the particular brand of heavy psych that Electric Moon play, flow is half the point in the first place. So yes,┬áMind Explosion flows as one would expect. Within the jams, parts ooze into and out of each other, creating a molten vibe that carries from the beginning of “Trip to the Moon” through the conclusion of the title-track. It’s not perfect and it’s not meant to be, but it’s organic and raw and honest, and its trance-inducing effects are expertly carried through. Though I get where they were going with it, perhaps “implosion” would’ve been a better fit for the title than “explosion,” since rather than rebel with force, as an explosion does, Mind Explosion draws the listener further into its gravitational swirl, falling in, turning, ready to be chased along its stellar path. The Austrian crowd, whistling, shouting their approval, seem right to do so, and as Electric Moon blur the line between live and studio offerings, they beg the question why they should have to bother in the first place with a distinction when their material is so alive and so exploratory.

Electric Moon, “The Picture” from Mind Explosion (2014)

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

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