Album Review: Electric Moon, You Can See the Sound Of… (Expanded Version)

Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

electric moon you can see the sound of

Look carefully at the front cover of Electric Moon‘s You Can See the Sound Of… and you’ll note, in small letters at the top, the words ‘Extended Version.’ And so it is. The original, limited-to-500-copies edition of You Can See the Sound Of… (review here) was pressed to white 10″ vinyl and issued at Roadburn Festival in 2013 to coincide with a residency from Electric Moon guitarist/synthesist/noisemaker Dave Schmidt, aka Sula Bassana. At the time, Electric Moon consisted of the core duo of Schmidt — who also runs Sulatron Records — and bassist/effects-specialist/sometimes-vocalist/graphic-artist “Komet Lulu” Neudeck, as well as drummer Michael Orloff, who had taken over from original drummer Pablo Carneval, who, in turn, has since rejoined the band. At the time, Electric Moon were embroiled in an absolute creative flood, and between 2010 and 2012 they’d done no fewer than (and likely more than) 10 releases between splits, live recordings and studio offerings.

Their foundation in improvised heavy psychedelic exploration, in space-rock-infused jamming, and the fact that they were releasing through Schmidt‘s own imprint as well as respected purveyor Nasoni Records, which by then was well familiar with Schmidt‘s solo work under the Sula Bassana banner, helped foster this relentless pace, and though they wouldn’t keep it up forever — how could they? — they were able to establish a reputation for the quality of their work as well as for the frequency with which it showed up. Even now though, multiple Electric Moon releases in the span of a year isn’t a surprise. To wit, they’re already set next month to follow You Can See the Sound Of… (Extended Version) with a live album captured at the 2019 Freak Valley Festival in their native Germany. But it is the standard of performance and chemistry they set that continues to make it such a joy to follow their progression from one outing to the next, and the original edition of You Can See the Sound Of… has always been a standout for me as a fan of what they do.

The three songs that appeared on that 2013 EP, “The Inner Part,” “Your Own Truth” and “No Escape From Now” are now featured as side A of You Can See the Sound Of… (Extended Version), and they remain a synesthetic pleasure to behold, from the bright shimmering, swirling greens of the lead cut to the Sonic Youth-gone-surf experimental feel of “Your Own Truth,” with Neudeck‘s semi-whispered vocals holding sway over a tense drum progression and a guitar line that is hypnotic enough to not give away the fact that it’s building to a more fervent payoff of fuzz in the song’s second half. By then they’ve already set the trajectory across the six minutes of “The Inner Part,” instrumental and expansive with a strong rhythmic foundation under Schmidt‘s floating guitar lines. It is no less the root of Electric Moon‘s approach than it is the basis for the dynamic of any number of power trios — bass and drums lock the groove, guitar wanders as it will — but given the keys to this particular spaceship, Electric Moon do not at all fail to make it their own.

electric moon you can see the sound of original cover

And as with the best of their work, it doesn’t feel like it could be any other way as “The Inner Part” and “Your Own Truth” make way for the 11-minute “No Escape From Now,” which unfurls gradually, seeming to use multiple dimensions of its mix to set the drums deep within the soundscape of the guitars and effects, maybe-vocals coursing intermittently through the first half of the track in what might be spoken form manipulated by pedals/synth or might just be the band tapping into the hearing-voices subconscious of their listenership. Seven years after the fact, it’s still unclear, and that’s part of what makes it work so well. It’s not like Electric Moon are going to sound dated; time isn’t really a factor here, and the context in which this material is occurring isn’t one that depends on the moment in which it occurs, based on improv though it is. Once it’s out there, it’s timeless, because in a way, once it’s out there its time has already passed.

To that end, I’m left curious as to why the three songs that appear on the back half of You Can See the Sound Of… (Extended Version) didn’t make the cut initially. Side B — comprising “Windhovers” (6:15), “The Great Exploration of Nothing” (4:56) and “Mushroom Cloud No. 4” (11:19) — is taken from the same studio session, and is set up as a mirror for side A in terms of the runtime of each piece. The second here is a little longer, the third a little shorter, but still within a minute of each other from one side to the next, and while it’s true that in the case of the later songs — those added on to the new version of the release — that’s being done with fadeouts so that they’re in line with the originals, that does nothing to undercut what they bring to the proceedings in terms of atmosphere.

“Windhovers” sets itself to a patient drumbeat and gives some semblance of a post-rock vibe early — if it was the quiet midsection of an Amenra song, no one would blink — and executes a more linear build than anything on side A, while “The Great Exploration of Nothing” turns to more of an outward lumber, putting the bass forward as Schmidt seems to move back and forth to keys and Neudeck takes the lead as the guitar otherwise might. The result is almost a verse/chorus structure — at least a play back and forth — but of course that’s not where Electric Moon are at.

They push through and into a noise wash jam on “Mushroom Cloud No. 4” and cap hinting at a guitar line that could easily (and probably did in the studio) just keep going for some indeterminate amount of time. That is the band in their wheelhouse, touching multiple niches in terms of sound, but holding a flow and reach that is too much their own to be anything else. As a reminder of what they were up to at this point, You Can See the Sound Of… (Extended Version) brims with psychedelic vitality, but one should not discount the work they’ve done since — on 2017’s Stardust Rituals (review here), for example — because the breadth that is so palpable in this material has only continued to expand.

Electric Moon, You Can See the Sound Of… (2013)

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Moon on Bandcamp

Electric Moon website

Sulatron Records website

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audiObelisk: Stream Electric Moon’s You Can See the Sound Of… EP in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on July 5th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I only bought one piece of vinyl at Roadburn this year, and it was Electric Moon‘s You Can See the Sound Of… 10″ EP. The new release comes as ever through their own Sulatron Records — the label helmed by guitarist/swirl creator/engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt — and it’s a continuation of the quick-working trio’s drive toward the very heart of psychedelic jamming. Among the slew of live and studio jams that Schmidt and bassist/vocalist Komet Lulu (also responsible for the artwork) have released, You Can See the Sound Of… stands out not only for its synesthetic title, but for the daring cohesion that emerges out of the lysergic course of the EP’s three tracks/22 minutes.

For anyone who’s experienced Electric Moon before — tasted the noise, heard the smells, and so on — You Can See the Sound Of… will be an immediate departure for the amount of vocals the songs contain. Lulu is never quite at the fore in terms of fronting the band, but effects-soaked lines add to the hypnosis of “Your Own Truth” and the more languid B-side “No Escape from Now,” giving the material a sense of personality, so that even though the release is short in comparison to Electric Moon‘s general wont to push a format as far as it will go, there’s a human impression shining through the bright colors of their space rock pulsations, punctuated here by drummer Michael Orloff, since out of the band.

Of course the molten flow of the material should go without saying. Across opener “The Inner Part,” the surprisingly brief “Your Own Truth” and “No Escape from Now,” Electric Moon craft an immersive sound few peers can match, driving and trance-inducing in like measure. And because the tracks of You Can See the Sound Of… so well balance enlightened musical wanderings and the grounding effect vocals inherently have, they seemed to me a perfect starting point for anyone who might not have had the chance yet to be introduced to what Electric Moon do.

A stream seemed in order — all the better for You Can See the Sound Of… being available only on vinyl and only at gigs — and I was fortunate enough that the band granted permission. You’ll find the entirety of sides A and B on the player below. Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

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