Electric Moon, Theory of Mind: Theory and Practice

electric moon theory of mind

Listening to Theory of Mind, I’m not sure German trio Electric Moon ever need to set foot in a studio again. One imagines that at some point they will, but the vibrancy and the fullness of tone they’re able to capture from the stage — added to the fact that their extended, flowing, sprawling jams are instrumental and at least in part improvised — makes the idea of them stepping in to record to a board, without an audience there, seem incorrect on some fundamental level. On stage is where they should be, where pieces like those included on Theory of Mind should come from. They are, in other words, in their element.

The raw chemistry that has grown up over the last several years (and really before that, in different bands) between guitarist/synthesist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/sometimes vocalist/cover artist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler is readily on display in the four cuts of this Sulatron Records CD/2LP, arranged one per side in the order of “Hypnotika” (16:04), “Theory of Mind” (19:05), “The Picture” (14:32) and “Aerosoul” (14:28), the trance coming on early in “Hypnotika” as it unfolds gradually over its first three minutes and twisting here and there, getting heavy at the end of the title-track and finding “The Picture” as perhaps the most riff-based jam Electric Moon have proffered in their time together, before “Aerosoul” ups the swirl and wah quotient to finish the show with a full on crest-and-recede process, Lulu underscoring a wash of guitar and crashing drums that lead to a last-minute swirlout.

An assembled audience — there is one — is pretty low in the mix, and were it not for the eruptions that occur as each piece draws to its conclusion and periodically within the jams as well, Theory of Mind would be an easy sell as a studio LP. Recorded to give a full tonal breadth, one can hear the separation between the guitar and bass, but not in the choppy soundboard manner that might result on a bootleg. Of course, Electric Moon have put out enough live albums at this point to know how it’s done, so maybe it’s not a surprise that “Hypnotika”‘s initial build-up would sound so completely fluid as it deftly shifts via Schnitzler‘s drumming into its next movement of heavier Krautrock stylizations, but that doesn’t make the release any less enjoyable.

electric moon (Photo by Pedro Vila)

 

Rather, knowing that SchmidtLulu and Schnitzler are going to provide their trademark exploratory sense in just about everything they do only enhances the appeal of their prolific output. It’s not quite like watching them play in-person, but it’s the next best thing, and the chance to hear the 19-minute breadth of “Theory of Mind” itself is something special, the song moving from another taking-its-time beginning into wah and bass bliss over liquefied cymbal work before emerging with a classic howl of a solo and evolving naturally into a heavier and heavier push, Lulu‘s bassline hypnotic all the while beneath, the track dynamically rising, falling, rising again momentarily and then pulling itself downward to make room for “The Picture,” its Sleepy initial progression striking in how firmly preconceived it seems to be. Possible that Sula or Lulu thought of that riff off the cuff, but it sounds like one from home brought to the stage for show-and-tell, and they put it to excellent use over the course of “The Picture”‘s 14-minute roll.

All the better to have “The Picture” directly in front of “Aerosoul,” then, because while the closer does have a build playing out over its own 14 minutes, it’s the most improvised-sounding of the four tracks on Theory of Mind. Now, it’s entirely possible that “Aerosoul” was thought out beforehand and “The Picture” made up on the spot — I’m only going by how I hear it — but what’s more important than when or how Electric Moon came up with this stuff is the fact that, even as they seem to be constantly pushing into new cosmic terrain, they’re also branching out into different modes of exploration, taking varied paths to accomplish the work of raw creativity.

By the time its crescendo takes hold circa eight minutes in, “Aerosul” has stretched itself out over a vast expanse of heavy psychedelia, and it only becomes more hypnotic as it pushes that groove forward and moves deeper into who the hell knows where Electric Moon are ultimately headed. Their jams have grown more and more engaging as their time has gone on, and with Lulu and Sula Bassana now also taking part in Krautzone and the reunited Zone Six, it seems like the scope has widened and will keep widening. Not something to complain about, because it seems like no matter where Electric Moon might go with their sound, they always keep the core mission of exploration central to what they do. As a live record like Theory of Mind proves, their approach is among the most vital of heavy psychedelic outfits active today, and one hopes it continues to develop as organically as it has to this point.

Electric Moon, “Theory of Mind”

Electric Moon’s website

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Electric Moon at Sulatron Records

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One Response to “Electric Moon, Theory of Mind: Theory and Practice”

  1. […] check out a piece of a review from the site The Obelisk: “It’s not quite like watching them play in-person, but it’s the next best thing, and the […]

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