Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Edging ever closer to the molten core at the very heart of psychedelic jamming, German trio Electric Moon are heading out on a tour starting this Friday that will see them hit Tilburg for the Roadburn Afterburner on Sunday, where I’m stoked I’ll get to see them after not being able to catch their set last year. I expect much bliss to ensue, and it’s even better that they’re coming through not, since they’ve got a new 10″ of studio recordings (they’re pretty prolific, but most of their stuff is concert material) called You Can See the Sound of…as well that you can hear a track from below. Could that be Sula Bassana joining Komet Lulu on those super-effects-laden vocals? I guess I’ll have to let you know when I know.
The You Can See the Sound of Electric Moon10″ is only available at gigs and it’s limited to 499 copies pressed to white vinyl, so if you’re in Europe throughout May or June, you might want to run into Electric Moon here or there. They’ll be playing the following:
ELECTRIC MOON: 19.04. GER-Krefeld, Kulturrampe 21.04. NL-Tilburg, Roadburn Afterburner 03.05. GER-Lippstadt, LiLu 04.05. GER-Itzehoe, Atzehoe 05.05. DK-Nyborg, Muzirkus 09.05. N-Oslo, Café Mir (+Wind) 10.05. S-Gothenburg, Truckstop Alaska 11.05. DK-Copenhagen, Dragens Hule (+ØSC) 19.06. UK-St. Albans, The Horn 21.06. UK-Liverpool, Blade Factory 22.06. UK-Builth Wells, Wales, Sonic Rock Solstice 23.06. UK-Leicester, The Musician 27.06. UK-Cambridge, Man On The Moon 28.06. UK-London, The Shacklewell Arms 29.06. UK-Dover, The Louis Armstrong 11.08. AT-Vienna, Rhiz 13.08. HU-Szeged, Club Noir 15.08. RO-Alba Iulia, Dark Bombastic Evening
Posted in Reviews on January 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
German psychedelic jammers Electric Moon have issued two live recordings from 2012, aptly dubbed Live 2012 Oneand Live 2012 Two. Each of the separately-issued jewel case CDRs (limited to 150 copies each) comes with artwork by bassist Komet Lulu and finds release through guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records imprint. The songs — six on Live 2012 Oneand four on Live 2012 Two– are named only for their runtime, and only the last track on each disc is under 10 minutes, while others range from 10:43 to 29:04. The implication is that the band, already prolific in terms of having multiple releases per year for the last few years, will add to the series as they go on, keeping and solidifying their penchant for limited live releases into a cohesive level of self-sustaining output.
I like where this is going.
Where is it going? Well, it’s going toward a catalog of live Electric Moon discs issued by the band on their own terms. Their music, their recordings, their label, their art. Even more, it’s going toward the very heart of what the trio of Schmidt, Lulu and drummer Michael Orloff are searching for musically. Where one segment of European heavy rock seems bent on capturing retro vibes of the early ’70s and another hints at a commercial vision of melodic heavy metal, Electric Moon are after something different altogether, their often-improvised jams reaching toward the very foundations of songwriting. Electric Moon on Live 2012 One and Live 2012 Twoare stripping heavy psychedelia down to its essential core of three players on a stage, a massive range of effects and an ever-expanding sense of open space.
On the back of both discs, along with trippy fractals and the tracklisting, is the bold-letter message, “Underground will never die! Fuck the system!” That’s just about the most aggressive thing Electric Moon have to say with either of the releases — the band is instrumental and their music never approaching caustic in its explorations — both of which top 72 minutes long. That does make for a lot of material to dig into for followers of the band or anyone who might be so bold as to take them on for the first time, but the idea here is to be lost in the music, and once you are, it really doesn’t matter how long it goes for. On Live 2012Two, which was recorded at the 2012 Rockt Den See Festival, Lulu leads the charge on “18:06″ with a running bassline while Schmidt trips out psychedelic swirling and Orloff keeps a fast tempo on drums while also changing up his fills and cymbal hits to match the changes. Even for those who haven’t had a studio primer for Electric Moon or who might be new listeners, most of what they do no matter how it’s recorded is live, and both of these albums capture their vibe excellently, sounding full in the low end and rich across the spectrum.
The highlight of Live 2012 Twois “29:04,” third of the four included jams, which starts off quiet and bursts to life as it embarks on a massive cosmic sprawl, Schmidt noodling echoed tones into oblivion while the rhythm section holds it together across what could’ve easily accounted for a full-album flow on its own. By seven minutes in, it’s huge, but the tide recedes and rises again, and it’s perhaps the best showing of the trio’s chemistry here — no coincidence it’s also the longest; Electric Moon have since their inception been given to developing ideas over their more extended pieces. Live 2012One, recorded at Zytanien Festival,is longer overall at over 78 minutes, but its six tracks have a shorter average runtime and so might come off as the more varied of the two, but understand, we’re still talking about gradually unfolding builds and lengthy repetitions. Even thought closer “7:07″ feels more plotted in its progression than a lot of what precedes it on Live 2012 One, it’s not exactly like Electric Moon are breaking out the hit radio singles.
And it’s for that reason largely that I consider them an “extreme” band. They’re not extreme in the heavy metal sense of depicting graphic violence lyrically or blastbeating their audience to a pulp, but there’s no perceptible effort either at meeting anyone halfway or sacrificing any aspect of their creative process to crowd capitulation. Perhaps it’s a very specific extremity, of psychedelic or space rock, but it’s an extremity all the same of those genres, and Electric Moon seem only more comfortable with their format over time. Because of that almost as much as because of the interplay between guitar, bass and drums, Live 2012 One and Live 2012 Two fill a specific niche for anyone who might look at the laid back end of European heavy psych and wonder what it would be to take the jammed songwriting basis to its limits. If it’s those limits that Electric Moon are searching for, they haven’t found them yet, and the more immersive their material gets, the more I hope they keep looking.
Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A glimpse at the enviable discography of prolific German psychedelonaut Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt will result in a lifetime’s worth of albums, live releases and jamming lysergic sprawl. Both on his own under the Sula Bassana moniker and with bands like Liquid Visions, Südstern 44, Zone Six and most recently Electric Moon, Schmidt has overseen the creation of an entire scene’s worth of output, sustaining leads carving out a niche almost entirely his own within European heavy psych rock. His latest solo outing to be released through his own Sulatron Records is called Dark Days, and on it, Schmidt plays guitar, bass, drums, synth, organ, performs what little vocals there are and, on all but two of the tracks which feature live drumming (by Pablo Carneval, also formerly of Electric Moon), he programs the drum machine. Thus Dark Days is a solo record in the truest sense of being the realization of one person’s vision, but as one expects from Schmidt by now, the material is richly textured and a wash of melodic light is crafted from a swirl of effects and synth. As on Sula Bassana’s past works, elements of electronica work their way into some of the material here, even apart from the drum machine, so that 16:47 closer “Arriving Nowhere” borders at times on some blend of psychedelia and trip-hop (I’d call it “dub,” but wouldn’t want to use the term incorrectly). The six tracks of Dark Days were recorded between 2007-2012, and are noted in the liner notes as having been inspired by the artwork from Electric Moon bassist Komet Lulu, which in turn was inspired by Sula Bassana’s music. The painting that adorns the cover, inside liner, and back of the CD is gorgeous, intricate and naturally toned, but there isn’t much dark about the music of the record itself. With some parts obviously improvised (the layers of guitar in the midsection of “Surrealistic Journey” come to mind), Schmidt works comfortably in psychedelic expanse both familiar to him and exciting for its spontaneity.
I have nothing to support this claim save for my best interpretation of the music and Dark Days’ overall flow, but the tracks seem to be following a narrative course. Perhaps less surprisingly, it’s a trip. We begin “Underground,” and then comes the shorter burst of “Departure,” followed by the ranging 20 minutes of “Surrealistic Journey,” the delving movements of “Dark Days” and “Bright Nights,” and then, at the end, we’re finally “Arriving Nowhere.” It’s hard to imagine Sula Bassana set out in 2007 to begin recording a narrative concept record, but maybe as Dark Days began to take shape, he saw how well the songs worked to express these ideas. In that, he wasn’t wrong. “Surrealistic Journey” does nothing if it doesn’t live up to its name. As someone who’s gleefully followed Electric Moon’s progression so far into the upper reaches of space rock improvisation, the jazzy synth ascendency that comes 15 minutes into “Surrealistic Journey” is a magic touch out of some Doors outtake, and one almost immediately greeted by the guitar. Such subtle moments are sprinkled throughout Dark Days, and though it’s easy for the album – which tops 71 minutes and features only of its six tracks that’s under nine (that being “Departure” at 6:04) – to overwhelm the listener, with this kind of thing, that’s half the point. What you discover and rediscover along the way during subsequent listens is what makes a project like Sula Bassana so successful. As the swirls beginning “Departure” suddenly become topped by one of the record’s most straightforward guitar progressions, it’s easy to hear what it was in Hawkwind that so turned on Monster Magnet. Schmidt is operating in that kind of ultra-exploratory realm, and that he’s able to put something so cohesive together on his own (it’s pretty obvious from the outset this isn’t his first time doing so) while still maintaining the hypnotic looseness the more jam-minded corner of the genre demands is a testament both to his experience and the potency of his output. But for the skill and thought put into the craft, I’d be tempted to call it a miracle.
Posted in Features on April 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Right now, on my rather lengthy reviews-to-do list, there is a double-disc live release from German heavy jam trio Electric Moon. This is a situation to which I’ve become rather accustomed over the past several months, as it seems the mere act of keeping up with the band’s output would require a full-time staff working around the clock. Their music, almost always captured live, is vibrant, colorful, dynamic and hypnotic in a way that most improvisation based material simply isn’t. You want to try as hard as you can to get lost in it.
They make that easy. Recently covered albums like The Doomsday Machine (review here) and Flaming Lake (streaming here) and their split with Glowsun (review here) are extended trips to some psychic “otherplace,” they ensnare the attentions and proceed to zone out the mind’s eye. Guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also of Zone Six and the head of Sulatron Records), bassist/vocalist/visual artist Komet Lulu and drummer Alex offer a guiding hand, but really, even they’re not sure where the journey is going to end up, and they’re as much riding the crescendo as you are.
It only serves to make the music more exciting, and while you can put on an Electric Moon album and know you’re going to be there for a while, the spirit with which those albums are constructed and the ultra-organic processes from which they come about provides more than enough impetus for multiple visits. And unlike a lot of jam-based heavy psych, with Electric Moon, the songs never come off as wholly redundant or all pointed in the same direction. Sure, a flow is established, but the structures that exist (you’ll note I say “structures” and not “boundaries”) are open and more dependent on the whims of the players than vice versa.
As they continue to mine the visible spectrum and interpret it freeform into music, I recently hit up Sula Bassana and Komet Lulu for some insight as to how the project came about, their reliance on improv, Lulu‘s artwork, Sula‘s upcoming releases with Sulatron Records, and more. It’s kind of a short interview, but if you’re not familiar with Electric Moon or how they came to be the endearing, fascinating band they now are, it should be well enough to give you some idea of where they’re coming from. In a word: Space.
Complete email Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on March 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
When last we checked in with German heavy psych jammers Electric Moon, they had released the limited live recording, Flaming Lake, on guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt’s own Sulatron Records. Like the rest of the trio’s output, that album was comprised of massive, extended space rock jams, recorded live and venturing out into improvised reaches where few dare to tread after someone’s pressed ‘record.’ Their follow-up, released either by or in cooperation with Nasoni Records, is the studio full-length The Doomsday Machine, an album that pushes their already expansive sound into new territories. The jam is the center of what they do – always. The interaction and chemistry between Schmidt, bassist Komet Lulu (who also handles vocals and the band’s gorgeous hand-drawn artwork; the cover for The Doomsday Machine is a painting by Ulla Papel, her father) and drummers Alex and Pablo Carneval remains the core of the band here, though since it’s Alex on the opening title-track and Carneval on the other four inclusions, I’d hazard the guess that the first song is the newest and the remaining cuts are older – Alex replaced Carneval on drums last year. In any case, Electric Moon’s überjams have taken on new and engaging personality here, whether it’s Komet Lulu’s bass shining through on the heavy grooving “Stardust Service” (19:46) or the darker, near-Ufomammut tube-driven push of the final moments of “Doomsday Machine” (19:37).
If you didn’t note those runtimes, I’ll repeat them: “Stardust Service” is 19:46 and “Doomsday Machine” starts the album off at 19:37. “Kleiner Knaller,” the second cut, is the shortest by far at 5:17, and “Spaceman” follows at 13:17 and closer “Feigenmonolog” tops out at 21:44. Electric Moon jam until the tape stops. Their sound is warm, their methods helping to set the new-European space rock tradition, and increasingly, their songs are becoming pivotal within that sphere. The Doomsday Machine (also the name of a Star Trek episode) is the best yet of their work that I’ve encountered – limited live CDR releases abound and are quickly sold out – thanks in large part to Komet Lulu’s vocals, which, while utterly spaced out and often buried under a heap of effects, amp noise, distortion, etc., help ground the songs and let you know that there are people in there somewhere making this music and it hasn’t just emanated from some kind of portal to another dimension. Left to your own devices alone with the stonerized otherwordliness of “Feigenmonolog,” you might be inclined to believe otherwise. Schmidt’s guitar is a multi-directional typhoon of tone, and this material, new or old, seems to warm its way from out of the speakers. Sleepy grooves meet with interstellar building – see “Kleiner Knaller” – and periodic but still unpredictable freakouts remind that you could wind up anywhere the band wants you to be on a given path. The music is potent, smells like outside, and shines a brighter light than either the title or the cover would have you believe.
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
German outfit Vibravoid are a hard band to keep up with. Since their 2001 debut was released on CD in 2000, they’ve gone on to become wildly prolific, working with labels like Nasoni, Sulatron, Fruits de Mer and Herzberg Verlag. In 2011, the Düsseldorf natives had their busiest year yet, with three 7” singles/splits, their second live album recorded at the Burg Herzberg festival (their 2010 set was also released last year), and the Minddrugs studio full-length on Sulatron (CD) and the Greek imprint Anazitisi Records (LP). Between that, their stake in the Timezine print fanzine and their affiliation with the ultra-retro Chenaski clothing line, the band has so much happening at any given moment that it’s hard not to get lost somewhere along the way. Even their lineup is nebulous. There’s no info included with the Minddrugs CD in that regard, except that the guitars, bass, mellotron, “stylophone” and theremin are played by Vibravoid, and depending on where you try to find the info, they’re either a trio or a four-piece, the only consistent member of which seems to be band founder/guitarist/vocalist Christian Koch. This can be frustrating if, say, you’re a stickler for including that kind of information in your reviews (cough cough), but ultimately, it stands in accord with Vibravoid’s propensity for mind-bending. Everything they do is steeped in a swirling, surreal psychedelia. What’s most surprising about Minddrugs is the varied forms that psychedelia takes.
Arguably, Vibravoid are best known for the kind of upbeat, late-’60s psych pop that hones in on the era before ballsy riffs took over in rock and it was more about the organ, the swirl, the echoes and the danceable feel. Even unto 2008’s The Politics of Ecstasy, that was the core of their style, and though those elements show up on Minddrugs as well, Koch and his fellow players are not at all limited by the confines of pop. In six tracks’ time, Vibravoid eases their way from the friendly garage fuzz of opener “Seefeel,” on which the vocals echo their verses and choruses bordering on indecipherability, to an epic closing rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which comes in at nearly 23 minutes and boasts expansive sections of effects play, tripped-out singularities and, finally, cosmic triumph. In between the two extremes, cuts like “What You Want” and “You Keep on Falling” (the latter released as a 7” earlier this year) offer balanced space rock/pop, the 12 minutes of “What You Want” seeming to pass quickly through its undulating midsection jam for the strength of the hook surrounding, and shorter excursions “Do it Allright” and “Lost Intensity” offering deconstructed and surprisingly abrasive noise and subdued, well-executed sub-drone atmospherics, respectively. Minddrugs is every bit the journey its title and artwork suggest, but even as “Do it Allright” devolves into a long fadeout/in that immerses the listener in painful static and echoplex noise, one doesn’t get the sense they’re out of control or unaware of what they’re doing.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
A little while back, I reviewed a Sulatron Records split between German heavy psych jammers Electric Moon and similarly-minded French act Glowsun. The first comment received with the review was a request for a full-stream, and, well, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
But I figured instead of doing the split on its own, might as well go all out and tackle something truly massive, like Electric Moon‘s Flaming Lake full-length, released earlier this year also on Sulatron. The four tracks are a bit like staring into the raw nebular elements of creation — just extended jams, recorded live by guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt. Everything is unpolished, everything sounds made up on the spot. It’s fantastically spontaneous and freaked way the hell out.
Joined by drummer Alex and bassist Komet Lulu (alsoPhilipp of Daturana on drums for closer “Burning Battenberg”), Bassana leads Electric Moon through these four massive jams, leaving structures open but a clear direction ahead, so that although immersive, the jams are also intricate-feeling, and hold up whether you want to rake your mind over each groove or let it wash over you.
And with just under 80 minutes of material, Flaming Lake provides plenty of wash. Or maybe I should take the ‘s’ out of that and just have it read “wah.” Either way, get ready for some ultra-spaced psychedelics and weighted instrumental exploration, courtesy of Sula and the rest of Electric Moon. The whole record is streaming on the player below. Hope you enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Flaming Lake is out now on Sulatron Records and is limited to 250 physical, jewel case copies with art by Komet Lulu that are available here. The latest info on Electric Moon can be found at their Thee Facebooks page as well. Special thanks to Sula Bassana for allowing me to host Flaming Lake.
Posted in Reviews on November 3rd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.