Six Dumb Questions with Electric Moon

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on April 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric moon

When an artist takes on a stage-name, the proper format is to write it in quotes, like a nickname, but somehow whenever I end up putting together a piece about the work of founding Electric Moon guitarist, synthesist, sitarist, producer, label honcho, etc., Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, I always feel like I’ve got it backwards. Like it’s Dave Schmidt that should be in quotes and Sula is the true identity beneath. Ditto that for bassist/vocalist/graphic designer “Komet Lulu” Neudeck. A big part of the reason why is the continued stamp Sula, Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler have left on heavy psychedelia over the course of this decade.

With a slew of live offerings, a strong improvisational foundation in the tenets of krautrock, classic prog and of course all things kosmiche, the German three-piece long ago set the controls for the heart of creation itself. Their works are often raw glimpses at their own making — the songs captured as they happened, unfolding as organically as possible to rich and singularly immersive effect. After years outside the studio, Electric Moon have newly released the four-track album, Stardust Rituals (review here), through Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records imprint, and for being six years after 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here), the arrival could hardly be more welcome.

Whether it’s the dug-in sitar-laced 22 minutes of vibe they decided to call “(You Will) Live Forever Now” or more song-based pieces “Stardust (The Picture)” and opener “The Loop,” Electric Moon gracefully subvert listener expectation and adjust the balance between improv and structure, and to call the resulting liquidity of Stardust Rituals one of 2017’s best in heavy psych is probably underselling the actual quality of the work itself. Even putting aside the fact that a studio outing from Electric Moon doesn’t happen every day, month, or year, Stardust Rituals gives its audience a solar system to inhabit and worlds or swirl to explore, and if it needs to carry over for a while as the band once more hits stages around Germany and greater Europe, recording and releasing sets as they go (never something to complain about), it should have no trouble doing so.

Sula and Lulu were both kind enough to take some time out to talk about the record and Electric Moon‘s methods in general, and you’ll find the results of that Q&A below.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

electric moon stardust rituals

Six Dumb Questions with Electric Moon

Tell me about how Electric Moon has grown since you started the project. So much of what you do is based on the chemistry between the three of you. How has that developed over time?

Lulu: When we founded the band with the drummer Pablo Carneval, we found out that we had to do nothing else than just start to play and we became one… Over the years, it changed a bit into more frame-based improvisations to get a picture. If you’re on tour, it’s important NOT to fuck up cause 100 percent free improvising night after night can kill creativity and you’re empty then. But we still do it, of course.

Over the years, we had many different drummers so there were also different influences.

But we always try to keep our thing: LET IT FLOW and feel the love. If we feel the love, the music floats automatically!

Sula: In the very first recording sessions we did everything alone, I mean Lulu and me. But then Pablo joined us and we knew we are able make this on stage! That was a great feeling!

What made you decide to go for a more song-based approach on Stardust Rituals? Each track still goes pretty far out, but tell me about incorporating more vocals in the studio. How did these tracks come together to be what they are?

Lulu: First I must say, we did what we’ve always been doing: keeping our studio albums more “song-based” than our live albums cause we have the possibility to do overdubs and recreate stuff, etc.

Sula and me also have so many ideas for songs so we can put them into the music in the studio! “The Loop” for example, was Dave‘s idea on the organ and he showed Marcus and me what he thought and told us what he thinks we should play, and then we did. It took not much time and we got it. It was a lot of fun playing this, by the way!

Also it’s much fun creating vocals for the music while listening to it. The music just tells you what is good for “her”… That’s a loop, haha, but really! I’m spacing out every time I think about these things… So I’m sorry for my weird sentences! Hahaha.

The second thing is, that our live albums are the essence when we three play together. The last records we’ve put out were live albums and we just needed a new impulse, again. So we’re happy that we got the impressions for Stardust Rituals to get it ready. Sometimes it’s hard ’cause the ideas wouldn’t find the way to your soul. But most of the time it’s pure magic.

For me, overdubbing is like talking to myself and, of course, the band. It’s very intimate! Having an idea, sitting down, listening to the song, being alone in the studio, feeling the energy of the music and then do the overdub. It’s really magic. I love doing my overdubs being on my own and it’s also always big excitement when the others listen to them the first time… Do they like what you did or don’t they? It’s big fun to make music with yourself, by the way.

Sula: The first basic recording was in 2014, and was untouched till we started overdubbing. Three of the track’s basics were within three days before we went to the Freak Valley Festival for a gig. That was in early summer 2015. In 2016, we slowly started cutting/arranging the recordings and doing the overdubs. Finally the mastering was done (by Eroc) in early 2017.

Is there something specific about the spirit of jamming that speaks to you with Electric Moon as opposed to other bands you’ve been involved in? Can you hear a part as the foundation of an Electric Moon jam as opposed to, say, something that would become a Sula Bassana piece?

Lulu: No, that never happened yet! It’s more like you hear the Sula Bassana soul in Electric Moon when he did most of the instruments, for example, cause he would influence the song then!

The specific in Electric Moon from the beginning is: Becoming one, let it flow, let the music lead your hands playing your instrument!

Sula: The spirit in the improvisations in the other bands is slightly different, because everyone brings his soul, mood, feelings in. For example, Rainer [Neeff, of Zone Six]’s way of playing guitar is different than mine. So the whole thing has a different energy. The music in Krautzone has a completely different feel and intention as the Electric Moon music. And as Lulu already told, I would never take a Electric Moon recording for a Sula song. Maybe one day I use a lick I played in an Electric Moon concert for a Sula song. But I would do new recordings, with everything played by myself, which will lead to a totally different result.

Lulu: I guess this sometimes happens “by accident” that you play the same lick twice!

Sula: Exactly what I mean!

Where does the title Stardust Rituals come from, and what does it mean for you?

Lulu: I had this idea when I was thinking and feeling a lot about life and death and space!!!

I was reading loads of space magazines and books and thought a lot about the fact that we all are made of stars! Everything and every creature, every plant and every ANYTHING is made of stardust! Our whole planet earth is made of the sun powder… That is so great, it feels so familiar and it’s so soothing when you are sad, for example…

Imagine – nothing and nobody could ever get lost – even if we die! ‘Cause we’d still be stardust in some way… And where should we disappear to? We’re all in space and will be… It feels so true to me.

So the title and also the vocal themes for the album were born. Stardust Rituals is like a complete reflection about this all. The music was talking to me…

And when Sula did the Mellotron in the last track, the complete thing was changing so much – it was so stunning – suddenly the whole piece turned into something different, more intense and beautiful so it made me cry… And then I wrote the vocals and it became the track “(You Will) Live Forever Now.”

Has releasing your own work through Sulatron changed your perspective on writing or recording at all? If so, how? If not, why not?

Sula: No. We always did everything by ourselves and the labels, who released our non-Sulatron-stuff, never told how to do it. They always accepted our music and artwork. So we can say we always produced our music the way we want it! Which is great!

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Sula: We have a lot plans for recordings, releases and so on. Also we could talk about the horrible situation on this planet. But that would take hours… and I hope everyone who is interested in our music is some kind of same-minded, trying to be a good person, without being aggressive or a racist, being without hate, and full of love and positive vibrations. Mankind needs love, peace and freedom. That’s it!

Lulu: And if there are any racists listening to our music we hope they can feel love and forget the racism…

Also – remember: We’re all made of the sun….. We’re one indeed! Physically! We’re all in the same space(ship)! LOVE! Man, I sound like a hippie, hahaha, but my heart feels it like this!

Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals (2017)

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Moon on Bandcamp

Sulatron Records

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Friday Full-Length: Guru Guru, UFO

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Guru Guru, UFO (1970)

I will by no means ever declare myself an expert on krautrock. In fact, if you ever hear me do such a thing, that’s how you know it’s not really me and my brain has been taken over by aliens or tiny cyborg infiltrators. Or both! And that’s not for lack of interest — as recently as this morning I was comparing modern sounds to those of the classic age of German prog pioneered by bands like Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Can, Popol Vuh — not to mention Magma, Comus and an entire world of others from elsewhere. Mostly it’s for lack of time. As in “a lifetime,” which is what it would take by my estimate in terms of dedication to really, really become an expert on the style. It’s easy enough to identify when you hear it, whether that’s in the synth experimentalism of Tangerine Dream or the acidic freakout of Brainticket‘s 1971 debut, Cottonwoodhill (discussed here), but to truly understand the origins, multifaceted directions and intentions of the style? Yeah, sorry. You could get three Ph.D.s in that shit and still only half know what you’re talking about. Thus the disclaimer: I’m no expert.

Is that about to stop me from enjoying the view as the ooze lurches from my speakers while Guru Guru‘s “Stone In” begins to unfold its ultra-lysergic flow? Not a chance. Guru Guru came into being circa 1968 at the behest of drummer/vocalist Mani Neumeier, who still helms the band. They’ve put out over 40 albums in their near-half-century of history (hence “a lifetime” above), and 1970’s UFO carries the distinction of being the first of them. Comprised of five songs — three on side A, two longer ones for side B — it’s only about 37 minutes in its original, non-reissue form, and with the acknowledgement that ’70 was early in the development of krautrock as a style (an “expert” would know exactly when the term came about) compared to three or four years later, when the progressive sonic ideology had further sprouted from its roots, it’s not the most krautrock of krautrock releases. That is, what Neumeier was up to at the turn of that decade had more in common with jazz-infused kosmiche psychedelia, as one can hear in the sprawling jams of “Girl Call” or the exploratory 10-minute side-B opening title-track. Less progressive, more acid. That’s not a complaint. And one can hear the experimentalist bent in and between the songs on UFO that would over the next few years take the shape it did, “Girl Call” bleeding right into the electronics-bolstered jazzy skronk of “Next Time You See the Dalai Lama,” as Neumeier, bassist/noisemaker Uli Trepte and guitarist Ax Genrich find a place between all-out improvisational bliss and freakish stomps and crashes. UFO would mark the beginning point of the group’s development, and by no means the end, but as they feel their way through the strange swath of ground these tracks cover, one can hear, particularly with five decades of context behind it, the foundation of a lot of what they’d go on to accomplish over the subsequent years.

To wit, the atmospheric world-making of “UFO” and “Der LSD / Marsch” on side B. From an exploration of noise to ritualized psychedelic oddity, the second half of UFO is weird enough to make what Guru Guru were doing on side A seem straightforward in comparison. And clearly that’s the point. The jazz gets freer, the hair gets hairier, the push gets harder to resist. “UFO” itself is hypnotic in its way, but the eight-minute finale of “Der LSD / Marsch” is the moment at which freakism as an aesthetic statement really seems to codify. In the bass, maddening crash of cymbals and off-time pluck of guitar notes, it knows no bounds but still moves ahead in a linear progression toward a palpable apex, once more drenched in the most bizarre of the preceding years’ psych impulses, but clearly on its own “marsch” to someplace else.

Again, that’s easy to say with 40 records to back it up, and not something that probably anyone would’ve figured circa 1970. Intimidating and seemingly impenetrable though it may be, the discography of Guru Guru is nonetheless home to a universe of such delights, and as noted, Neumeier continues to create under the same banner to this day, whether it’s solo releases, collaborations with Acid Mothers Temple — you’ve probably heard of the Acid Mothers Guru Guru offshoot — or just touring as Guru Guru. He’s got dates this month and throughout the summer posted on his website, mostly in Japan with a couple fests in Europe as well. Some impulses simply will not be stopped.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Ups and downs today, huh? Turned into an eight-post day between this, the review earlier, the news about the Tour of the Doomed and Hans-Georg Bier passing away — both of which I saw just this morning — and the rest. Ups and downs. The whole week has been like that.

If you follow this site and in particular these Friday Full-Length posts and the kind of “how ya doin'” updates after the album rants, you’ll know I’ve been fretting for the last however long that my year-long work contract at Hasbro wouldn’t be picked up and I’d be once more relegated to unemployment. Well, that shoe dropped this week. I’m done in June.

This job has been far from perfect. Far from it. Perfect is you-stay-home-and-write-about-music-all-day-and-money-shows-up-in-your-bank-account. This hasn’t been that. It has, however, easily been the best gig I’ve ever had, and though I’ve had days here when I wanted to force a screwdriver into my eyeball owing either to the strains of corporate culture or the commute or my own apparently natural and inescapable propensity for being a miserable bastard, I’m sorry to see it come to an end. I’m part of a team of decent, mostly well-meaning people here, the work I do isn’t awful, and I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 months that I’ve been doing it, about the process, about myself and about what I want my life to be and what I don’t want it to be.

For example, I don’t want to work anymore, but I do need to earn some money. Protein powder might be 60 percent of what I consume in a given week at this point, but that shit ain’t cheap.

I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out — there are other contingency factors at play as well that I’ll talk about some other time — but finding that out on Wednesday morning sucked considerably.

A low point that made me even gladder next week is Roadburn. I fly out on Tuesday and have all the more reason to look forward to getting out of my own head for a few days, experiencing great music, great people and an environment that I’ve come over the last nine years to think of as kind of a second home. I’ll be covering it in the usual manner starting Wednesday. I do not expect to sleep much, eat much or do much beyond fold issues of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, write and take pictures, and that’s gonna be just fine for a few days.

That’s the plan, anyhow. Still, because I’m compulsive, there’s a lot to cram in before I go. Here’s how it looks in the notes:

MON.: L’Ira del Baccano review/stream; Atala track premiere; Rattlesnake news (who’s Rattlesnake? Find out Monday).
TUE.: Sasquatch track premiere; Six Sigma review; The Obsessed interview (that interview might get moved to Wednesday).
WED.: ROADBURN 2017 COVERAGE.
THU.: ROADBURN 2017 COVERAGE.
FRI.: ROADBURN 2017 COVERAGE.
SAT.: ROADBURN 2017 COVERAGE.
SUN.: ROADBURN 2017 COVERAGE.

There’s always something that comes up while I’m at Roadburn, be it big-type news that can’t be put off — i.e. Electric Wizard announces their new record or some shit like that — or whatever it might be, but with the caveat of any such wrenches in the gears, I can’t wait to get to Tilburg and get my brain melted. Crippled Black Phoenix and SubRosa open the Main Stage on Thursday. I’ll be there. If you’re going to be there, please say hi.

Like I said, ups and downs. Some you win, some you lose.

Thanks to everyone for reading this week. I hope you’re doing well and I hope you have a great and safe weekend ahead. If you get the chance, please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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R.I.P. Hans-Georg Bier of Nasoni Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Sad news out of Berlin today in the announcement from Nasoni Records that founder Hans-Georg Bier has passed away. With Nasoni as his vehicle since 1996, Bier has been an instrumental figure in shaping the modern sphere of the heavy underground both in and out of Europe. Working with bands like Colour Haze, Vibravoid, Sula Bassana, Siena Root, Weltramstaunen, Causa Sui, Samavayo, Los Natas, Terraplane, Deadpeach, Stoned Jesus, Arenna, Space Invaders and countless others, his efforts contributed massively to the aesthetic of modern heavy psychedelia and particularly its loyalty to classic foundations in organic sounds and vinyl presentation. Under his tutelage, Nasoni Records became an absolute “can’t miss” label: all you needed to know going into a new release was that if Nasoni approved enough to put it out, it was going to be worth hearing.

I’ve said on multiple occasions that I consider Nasoni among the finest imprints worldwide, and their catalog over the last 21 years stands as evidence to back me up on that. In 2014, Dr. Rainer Präger’s From Farm to Space chronicled the accomplishments and releases of Nasoni, and the fact that the book (still available) included a limited-run 7″ with exclusive tracks from Wo Fat and The Re-Stoned emphasizes how completely unwavering the passion of the label has been. Bier, who reportedly suffered from long-term heart problems, was never anything but kind in my limited direct dealings with him years ago, and clearly someone for whom the music was paramount and everything else secondary.

The fact that Nasoni has never strayed from its initial principals and never forgotten to look forward to new fostering new bands and an ever-broadening reach is a huge part of what has made it so special as an imprint, and as listeners, we should be thankful to have had Bier at the helm for as long as we did. His accomplishments will continue to resonate for years and decades to come.

On behalf of myself and this site, condolences to the friends, family, colleagues and to fellow fans of Nasoni Records. This is a significant loss not only on practical terms for the company Bier founded, but for Europe’s heavy psych underground as a whole, but in his honor, it’s all the more crucial to press on and keep the turntables spinning.

Rest in Peace, Hans-Georg Bier.

The announcement as posted on Nasoni’s website follows here:

hans-georg bier of nasoni records

We deeply regret, having to inform you that the founder of Nasoni-Records, Hans-Georg Bier, has passed away just recently.

However, the Nasoni Label is going to live on and will be continued in Hans’s entire sense, philosophy and terms.

One fifth of a century of Nasoni records — this is certainly a reason to celebrate and also a good opportunity to look back at the beginnings and the history of the label.

In 1996 the music industry started the attempt to eliminate the traditional vinyl LPs with the introduction of the newest fad called CD — this encouraged us with our rebellious minds to start our project to reach out to all friends of analogue sounds and release outstanding music on vinyl.

We were sure that there were plenty of humans who would prefer the exciting and adventurous trip into the underground to the easy available junk from the surface of the mainstream scrapyard. These people shared also our view that every now and then a bit of surface noise on a record is still better than the irrelevant offers of 16 or 24bit audio and sampling up to 44000 Hz. At that moment in time nobody was even thinking about the next abyss and the coming horrors of the not so far away future — where people would happily listen to hollow and tinny sounds of a mumbling Mickey Mouse singer from a portable telephone!

If in 2096 somebody pulls a Nasoni record from the shelf and cannot help a sympathetic smile turning up on his face — then we know that our fight against the dark forces of the digital age was not in vain. This label was and still is the honest attempt to document and emphasize our love for music.

Nasoni Records website

Nasoni Records on Thee Facebooks

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Prophecy Fest 2017 Lineup Finalized: Sólstafir, Arcturus, Dool, Hypnopazuzu and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Haven’t you ever wanted to go to a festival in a German cave? Fucking of course you have. Don’t even pretend otherwise. And somehow, given the vast sonic swath it covers, from the post-everything metal of Arcturus to the Eastern European folk of The Moon and the Nightspirit to the goth-infused heavy rock of Dool — all of which operates under the banner of Prophecy Productions, it has to be noted — the lineup for Prophecy Fest 2017 couldn’t be more appropriate. The fest is set for July 28 and 29 at Balver Höhle in Balve, Germany.

Yes. It’s really a cave. Yes, you can go there and see cave stuff. There will also be a lineup of bands that emphasizes the unique (not a word I use often) breadth of Prophecy Productions, and that only makes it more special as an event. I don’t know how many fests you go to in the average year — 10? 15? — but I try and hit a few. I’ve never been to one in a cave. I’m ashamed to admit it.

Lineup rules, location rules. Concept rules. I can feel the vibe from here already.

From the PR wire:

prophecy fest 2017

Prophecy Fest 2017 – 28th & 29th July 2017 – Balver Höhle/Germany

Prophecy Fest takes place in a natural cave from Old Stone Age – Balver Höhle. According to Germanic Saga, the blacksmith Wieland had his workshop in the cave. Balve, Germany, is situated between Dortmund, Cologne, Frankfurt and Hannover.

After the amazing work Austrian graphic designer Irrwisch did made for Lotus Thief’s “Gramarye”, he was our choice for the art director function at Prophcy Fest 2017. We are delighted to have him on board and can’t wait for his exhibition in the cave of Balve!

Sun Of The Sleepless, the black metal/experimental side project of Schwadorf (Empyrium, The Vision Bleak), will play its second show ever at Prophecy Fest 2017! As a side note, the first concert was at the first small Prophecy label festival in 1999. Dornenreich will grace us with a special history acoustic concert at Prophecy Fest 2017! The set list will contain songs from all their albums as well as the “Mein Flügelschlag” demo tape. The Vision Bleak will perform with the Shadow Philharmonics for the first time since 2006 again.

We are proud to have Schwadorf and Konstanz back at Prophecy Fest 2017 for a special performance with a classical ensemble of strings, percussion and vocals! We are proud to add DOOL, one of our most exciting signings in recent years, to the billing of Prophecy Fest 2017. Ryanne van Dorst and her pack will prepare a special set with five additional musicians and singers exclusively for this event! The Moon and the Nightspirit will play a one-time show at Prophecy Fest! Their line-up will be extended by a pianist/harpist and a flutist and their set will include songs never played before.

Hypnopazuzu, the new band of David Tibet (Current 93) and Youth (Killing Joke), give their very first concert in Germany! Lotus Thief will be in Europe for the first time and we let them set ancient words to song in the cave of Balve. Hexvessel will prepare an extended performance for us with implemented acoustic set. Arcturus, the epitome of avant-garde metal, will perform at Prophecy Fest. Soror Dolorosa will perform “Severance” in its entirety for the first time. Additionally, they will present their new album “Apollo”.

Glerakur surprised us and blew us away with their performance at Prophecy Fest 2016. It was an easy decision for us to invite them again. Sólstafir will illuminate the cave of Balve! NOÊTA will play their first concert outside Scandinavia at this year’s Prophecy Fest! Spiritual Front will play a special “Armageddon Gigolo” set for Prophecy Fest 2017! Nhor world premiere performance at this year’s Prophecy Fest!

Unlike other festivals, we will not start with the most “unknown” artist and end with the “headliners”.

To us, they are all headliners and were chosen because we expect an amazing performance from them.

Therefore, all artists will receive the playing time they need for their performance, and the running order will reflect what we consider the optimum in terms of dramaturgy and suspension.

http://en.prophecy.de/prophecy-fest/
http://live.weltnetz.lu/en/titel/prophecy-fest-28-07-29-07-2017-balve/

Les Discrets, Live at Prophecy Fest 2016

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Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals: In the Cosmic Loop

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric-moon-stardust-rituals

The discography of German heavy psych trio Electric Moon is a confusing thing, filled with atemporal reissues of limited prior works, live albums that could easily be studio affairs, varying editions, and so on, mostly if not completely all released through founding guitarist, synthesist, electric sitarist, keyboardist, general-swirlmaker and recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt‘s own Sulatron Records label. Accordingly, I could be way off in saying so, but I believe Stardust Rituals may be the first proper Electric Moon studio full-length since 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here).

Is that possible? I don’t know anymore. They count it as their fifth album either way, and it follows behind several of the aforementioned reissues — including one in 2016 for The Doomsday Machine — and a bevvy of live offerings like last year’s Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum (review here), 2015’s Theory of Mind (review here), 2014’s Mind Explosion (review here), 2013’s Live 2012 1 & 2 (review here), etc. If indeed it has been six years since the last time they tracked a full-length not onstage somewhere in Europe, one could hardly accuse them of being lazy with that time, however languid and flowing their sound might be and certainly is on Stardust Rituals.

The album presents three extended cuts and one shorter piece very much built outward from the core of jamming between Schmidt, bassist “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and drummer Marcus Schnitzler that has to-date been at heart in their approach, live or otherwise. Over the past five-plus years, their material has driven toward an at-times raw glimpse of their creative processes, with as little filtering of the view as possible, and while the movements that comprise Stardust Rituals‘ 45-minute stretch come across as more song-minded, they also maintain that acid-drenched sensibility of exploration, emerging all the more spacious and triumphant for it.

And really, with material so clearly geared toward vibrancy in the first place, the line between what’s live and what isn’t would seem to be pretty fluid in the first place. True, Stardust Rituals doesn’t have breaks for applause, but even as Komet Lulu‘s vocals roll out echo-and-swirl-buried verses as part of the overarching drift of second track “Stardust (The Picture),” an obscure but definitively human presence, the feeling is one of spontaneous kosmiche combustion — nebular gases swirling into a cohesive stellar motion, rotational gravity taking hold to bring the listener into the song’s orbit.

Also it’s spaced out. “Stardust (The Picture)” is a centerpiece for the molten flow set up over the course of Electric Moon‘s first three tracks, which most likely comprise side A of the vinyl. They begin with the dug-in space rock progression of “The Loop,” which is arguably the most “song-ish” of the album as a whole, with a synth figure at its center and a forward rhythmic push made subtle through the classy, jazzy intertwining of Schnitzler‘s drumming and Schmidt‘s guitar lead circa three minutes in.

electric-moon-photo-by-space-farmers

It’s in “The Loop” that Electric Moon will almost shock those who’ve followed them the last several years, because even before they turn to the Hawkwindian thrust at the beginning of the eight-minute track’s second half, they very purposefully establish a course distinct from the live offerings that have led up to Stardust Rituals, and that impression continues into the rolling low end that begins “Stardust (The Picture)” — an early instrumental version of which, titled just “The Picture,” appeared on both Theory of Mind and Mind Explosion.

Its inclusion here, and in this more complete, vocalized form, still far-reaching and adventurous but with a firmer intent behind it, speaks to the amorphous nature of Electric Moon‘s work as a whole and the meta-level on which their fluidity operates. It’s not just about being open in terms of willing to jam out for 20 minutes at a clip. It’s about being willing even to change the definition of a song itself from what it was to what they want/need it to be to best suit a purpose. They break their own rules once again with the sitarized “Astral Hitch Hike,” departing the structured consciousness of the longer opening duo in favor of 4:40 of instrumental psych-prog vibing — just in case you might think it safe to know what to expect.

Sitar continues to meander, wrapping itself around an initial bassline, at the launch of closer “(You Will) Live Forever Now.” The finale, at 22 minutes, is just about as long as the first three pieces on Stardust Rituals put together, and it seems clearly meant to consume all of side B on its own. It definitely is consuming, or at very least immersive — a subdued flow is underway almost immediately but brimming with patience, flourish of synth adding to a rich atmosphere that provides a stage for when the vocals arrive after we’ve waded about four minutes deep. It’s a dream. All of it. The tone, the drift, the vagueness of the voice. But Electric Moon thrive in that dream, and though it’s by no means in any rush to get anywhere, there is a build happening and it is linear. Layers are added to the whole one at a time, the guitars making a noteworthy arrival near six minutes, and Lulu and Schnitzler provide an absolute solid foundation on which this liquefied push takes place.

There’s a sense of pickup and tonal thickening about three minutes later just before the vocals return — in layers — and a fuller fuzz soon grabs hold and moves “(You Will) Live Forever Now” into its next phase, noisier and denser but still remarkably vast and open feeling. They’re not yet halfway through, but this movement will get them there and come to a head just before the solo that starts at about 13:30 and runs until it comes apart at about the 15-minute mark — drums and bass holding steady as the guitar quietly rights itself. That process sets up the last verse (or verses, because who knows where one ends and another begins) and the shift into the closer’s apex for Stardust Rituals as a whole, which starts in earnest with the arrival of Mellotron at 18:49 and continues to develop until the fadeout that begins in the last minute leaves only the keys and residual echoing swirl behind.

Electric Moon may be in large part defined as a unit by what they accomplish live, and that feeds even into Stardust Rituals as well, since much of what has become these songs has its foundation in that raw creative process noted earlier, but if their return to studio work demonstrates anything, it’s that their sound has little interest in limits of any sort, be it those of listener expectation, or of genre convention, or whatever else. The prevailing warmth they exude throughout these four tracks is as unmistakably their own as any of their live improvisational work has been, and in reminding their audience of that, they’ve only made themselves a richer sonic experience for those fortunate enough to take them on. Whether one puts it on and gets lost in its outward gone-ness or stays with its twists and turns every step of the way, the path through the solar system that Stardust Rituals blazes is nothing less than a joy to follow.

Electric Moon, “The Loop”

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Sulatron Records

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Freak Valley 2017 Completes Lineup: Earthless, Mammoth Mammoth, Church of the Cosmic Skull & Green Orbit Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2017 lineup

And just like that, the lineup for Freak Valley 2017 is finished. The final four? Earthless, Mammoth Mammoth, Church of the Cosmic Skull and Green Orbit. Both Earthless and Green Orbit will be celebrating releases on the fest-affiliated Rock Freaks Records — a live album in Earthless‘ case, a studio debut for Green Orbit, which, from the description below, I’d be very interested in hearing — and Mammoth Mammoth‘s new record will be out by June as well as Church of the Cosmic Skull, whose first album, Is Satan Real? (review here), was among the best debuts of 2016.

Kudos to Freak Valley 2017 on another stellar lineup of bands. From Slo Burn and Ufomammut to Asteroid and OrangoGeezer and Elephant Tree, it’s a sick bill that, even in its final announcement, has set me once more to daydreaming about a trip to Siegen, Germany, this June.

One day.

Here’s word from the fest:

freak valley 2017 last adds

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2017 lineup is final now!!

Here are the last 4 bands:

Mighty Earthless will be back and will play an exclusive European show!! This will be the release show for their new album “Live at Freak Valley 2015” – Released by Rock Freaks Records.

Our Aussie buddies MAMMOTH MAMMOTH will finally join our Fest.

You will have the privilege to be part of the first ever European mainland show of Church of the Cosmic Skull !!

2 Rock Freaks crew members play in Green Orbit. You’ll be more than surprised when you enjoy them live on stage!!

Formed in 2001, EARTHLESS prides itself on creating energetic, utterly unique and free thinking instrumental music inspired by an eclectic mix of German krautrock and Japanese heavy blues-rock. The Californian trio has dedicated itself to mastery of the mind-bending jam session, evoking the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath in equal measure.

Named after a song title from vintage New York garage-psych band The Druids of Stonehenge, EARTHLESS’ sound has been called “A sonic kaleidoscope of lava and lightning”, earning it the title of “California’s loudest band”. The group delivers “one of the best live shows in all of modern, heavy rock,” leading to one reviewer stating that the band’s “epic shredding harkens back to the days were psychedelic rock had balls the size of grapefruits and wasn’t afraid to take its listeners on a ride for which they may never return.”

MAMMOTH MAMMOTH are a heavy rock band from Melbourne Australia that smash the shit out of their stoner, glam, doom, punk and psychedelic rock influences. Their first video clip was immediately banned. It used 1970s European pornography and was pulled from youtube, myspace and facebook – but not before it had over 1 million views and probably as many complaints.

In this early 2017, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH emerge from the studio with a new album locked, loaded and ready to fire! Again, the recording was not without the usual disturbances that plague this foursome. Yes the police came (and not to jam a few tunes). Yes, there was a chemical fire. And yes, a little voodoo was practised. And okay, the bass player did barely survive a motorcycle crash juste before the final tracking. But nothing short of Armageddon was gonna stop MAMMOTH MAMMOTH from getting this job done.

CHURCH OF THE COSMIC SKULL is a twofold entity: a new religious movement who seek to free mankind from their material possessions and unify all living beings into a singular cosmic whole; and a 7-piece supergroup based in Nottingham UK playing Prog/Psych/’70s Rock/Pop. For fans of Black Mountain, Ghost, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats. The combination of guitar, hammond organ, electric cello, bass and drums recalls early @Mahavishnu Orchestra, but with six-part Queen-esque vocal harmonies and Thin Lizzy pop-rock structures.

Hailing from the deep woods near Siegen/Germany, Green Orbit will bring you their instrumental heavy psychrock. Warm fuzz sounds, sweetly interlaced with psychedelic vibes, tied together by energetic drums and surrounded by the floating sounds of a didgeridoo(m), their music will take you to another galactic home.

Musical Influences like Colour Haze, Rotor, Sungrazer and many more melt together into a heavy-groovy space-trip. Green Orbit’s debut-album “First Wave”, which already received positive reviews from all over the world, will be released in May 2017 on Rock Freaks Records.

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL – 15th-16th-17th June 2017
www.freakvalley.de www.rockfreaks.de

Freak Valley Festival 2017: No Fillers – Just Killers

LineUp 2017:
Slo Burn, Earthless, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Pentagram, Ufomammut, Greenleaf, Conan, Golden Void, Asteroid, Mammoth Mammoth, The Brew, Arbouretum, Maserati, Church of the Cosmic Skull, Föllakzoid, Mothership, Wand, Salem’s Pot, MaidaVale, Elephant’s Tree, Geezer, Kikagaku Moyo, The Great Machine, Orango, Vodun, The Black Willows, Sativa Root, Limestone Whale, Green Orbit

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/150965291977635/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow”

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Electric Moon Release Stardust Rituals April 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I would expect nothing less from Stardust Rituals than the title suggests. It’s been I don’t even know how long since the last proper studio offering from German jammers Electric Moon, whose psychedelic explorations show up much more often in the form of live records, but on April 7, they’ll return with this four-track full-length, apparently exploring themes of mortality, space, and the intertwining of these various dimensions in which we exist.

They’ve got opening track “The Loop” streaming now ahead of the release, and aside from their signature psych-wash, the song surprises in its structured feel. In the announcement below, they hint that the rest of the record might follow a similar path — using the basic jams as a foundation for building a song, rather than just seeking to represent the raw process of creation on their own — and I’m excited to hear how that balance shakes out across Stardust Rituals as a whole. Can’t get here fast enough, quite frankly.

Of course, it will be out on Sulatron Records, as the PR wire informs:

electric moon stardust rituals

Finally it’s happening, and the long awaited 5th studio release of Electric Moon appears to see the light!

4 tracks, which pack a punch and which went a long way to become what they are now. The oldest tune „Stardust (The Picture)“ was already recorded in 2014 and was released as instrumental version on 2 live albums so far. But it got refined with overdubs like vocals and stuff, like all the other tracks, too. This is one of the things which make the difference between live albums and studio albums, by the way; like also, that improvisation and songwriting get mixed-up!

“Stardust Rituals“ is painting a journey through the inner cosmos and wants to deliver the insight, that no-one and nothing gets ever lost, because space is like a jar which keeps us all, in which form ever… We’re all made of stardust so nothing can happen in the end…

Trippy like always, Electric Moon will carry you off on a trip to the deepest depths of the outermost innermost, cause in every one of us is a cosmos and we all are together on this common journey, in the same (space-)ship…

Recorded, mixed and produced by Sula Bassana (Dave Schmidt) and mastered by Eroc!

The beautiful round Cover-Painting was painted by Eriko of Mont Doom Design in Italy and Lulu Artwork! just brought it to shape for the final design and layout.

CD comes in jewel case, LP in fold-out cover with triple-marbled (blue-black-white) 180 grams quality vinyl (made in Germany), limited to 1000 pcs!

Electric Moon is:
Komet Lulu: Bass, Vocals, Effects
Marcus Schnitzler: Drums
Sula Bassana: Guitar, E-Sitar, Organ, Mellotron, E-Piano, Effects

Tracklist:
The Loop (08:06)
Stardust (The Picture) (10:14)
Astral Hitch Hike (04:41)
(You Will) Live Forever Now (22:41)

www.sulatron.com
www.electricmoon.de
https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/ElectricMoonOfficial

Electric Moon, “The Loop”

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Samsara Blues Experiment Premiere “Vipassana”; Reveal Art and Tracks for One with the Universe out May 12

Posted in audiObelisk on March 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

samsara blues experiment

As they returned home to Germany this past week from a South American tour and made ready to head out over the next month on a slew of European dates including festival stops at Under the Black Moon, Riff Ritual, and Desertfest in London and their native Berlin, Samsara Blues Experiment came one step closer to the release of their fourth full-length, One with the Universe. The album — confirmed for a May 12 release through Electric Magic Records with cover art by Michel Bassot newly unveiled below — arrives four years after the third Samsara Blues Experiment outing, Waiting for the Flood (review here), and finds the band pared down to a trio for the first time on a studio offering, returning to activity after several years away following a prolific run between 2009 and 2013, and embarking on some of their boldest and most progressive arrangements to date.

I haven’t heard One with the Universe in its entirety yet — as of this weekend, the master was still being finalized — but today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the premiere of the 10-minute opening track, “Vipassana,” for your (and my) streaming enjoyment. Obviously, its my basis for the assessment above about the arrangements, and as the song plays through its jam-based course, one can hear that coming through in the synth provided by guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, joined in the three-piece by drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt. At the same time, to go along with the core warmth of low end and natural push of the toms at the start and the airy guitar and echoing vocals that accompany, there also emerges some weightier tonality in the chorus that hits with a more aggressive underlying vibe. Dare I say “doomly?” I won’t guess how it plays out across the span of One with the Universe, which runs just under 47 minutes, but along with the synth sprawl that starts at about the halfway point, it’s something that turned my head listening to “Vipassana.”

I’ll hope to have a review up sometime between now and the May 12 release date, so I’ll save some of the rambling for that, but the name of the song, if you’re wondering, refers to the Buddhist notion of insight into the true nature of reality. Not exactly a toss-off scale on which to begin an album. Such purposes are welcome from Samsara Blues Experiment, who recorded the likewise ambitiously-titled One with the Universe with former bassist Richard Behrens (also of Heat), who also helmed the last outing. One looks forward to hearing how this spiritual searching resolves itself, or if it does at all, throughout the rest of the tracks.

Peters was kind enough to give some background on the making of “Vipassana,” and you’ll find his words, the complete album tracklisting, upcoming tour dates and more info under the player below.

Please enjoy:

Christian Peters on “Vipassana”:

‘Vipassana’ is the first song we did after Richard had left the band. It came out from a series of jam sessions. Pretty much this is all we did in the first rehearsals after Richard left: jamming, jamming and even more jamming. The song topic seems to be about growing up, or maybe growing up responsibly. Kind of a coming of age thing wrapped in heavy riffs and Pink Floydish-psychedelia, plus some kind of Indian raga theme. It’s pretty much what one can consider as ‘classic SBE’-material already, I think.

It may be interesting to know that Richard, who did not play any instruments, but again recorded the album, also contributed some nice ideas in the process, like having me play the backward solo or putting in some vintage tape-effects. we are all very happy with the outcome of this song in particular and hope you will enjoy. there is much more on the album.

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universeSAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT’s fourth ‘full piece of wax’ “One with the Universe“ is a culmination of all their works and truly a hard hitting cosmic invitation for floating into their universe of spiritual progression. The most evolutionary development compared to previous albums is the cosmic usage of analog synthesizers, keyboards and effects, while not losing focus on catchiness and well-rendered songwriting.

These five new epics subtly integrate flashes from Jimi Hendrix´ “Electric Ladyland“, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, with Canterbury Prog elements à la Caravan and the fuzzed-out riffs of Kyuss. “One with the Universe“ can not be put just into one genre: it is a multifaceted heavy rock album with tons of soul, courage and originality!

The album will be released on May 12th through Electric Magic Records.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Vipassana (10:43)
2. Sad Guru Returns (7:55)
3. Glorious Daze (6:01)
4. One with the Universe (15:03)
5. Eastern Sun & Western Moon (7:09)

– ARTWORK FROM MICHEL BASSOT –

EUROPEAN SHOWS:
25.03. Roma (IT), Defrag
31.03. Osnabrück, Westwerk
01.04. München, Under The Black Moon Festival
02.04. Leipzig, Werk 2
22.04. Barcelona, Riff Ritual Festival
29.04. Berlin, Desertfest
30.04. London (UK), Desertfest
12.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Stummfilm-Special)
13.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Albumrelease Parteeey)
14.05. Hamburg, Hafenklang
15.05. Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
16.05. Bielefeld, Forum
17.05. Nijmegen (NL), Doornroosje
18.05. Nantes (FR), Le Ferrailleur
19.05. Paris (FR), Backstage
20.05. Köln, Underground
11.08. Finkenbach, Finki Festival

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Samsara Blues Experiment on Instagram

Samsara Blues Experiment on Bandcamp

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Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

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