While we blink and recover from Electric Moon’s last opus, Sula Bassana puts out another space/psych rock classic. Dark Days is virtually a one man show, with some added punch from Electric Moon vet Pablo Carneval on drums and David Henriksson of The Movements handling the vocal duties on opener Underground. Though not forsaken totally, Sula leap frogs over some of his mellower and electro-tinged voyages to deliver a platter that rocks as much as it gets off the ground. Where Electric Moon virtually sucks the air out and fills the remaining void with their solar-flared combustion, Dark Days offers a crisper Sula, one that snakes through the pockets of air and space. As always, his guitar playing is exceptional, taking on the role of centerpiece and driving force without pummeling the rest of the songs into submission. Underground is a straight-up rocker that’s both levitated by, and grounded in, a late 60s/early 70s vibe retooled for the modern age. Henriksson’s vocals are a perfect fit; flowing, wobbly and mysterious as he acts as cruise director through the underground, trading off with Sula’s wah-wah pedal exploitation. An exceptional opening salvo. Up from the underground, it’s time for Departure, a Hawkwind-flavored repetitious trek that lives fully up to its name and escalates Dark Days up higher, docking next with the arguable centerpiece, Surrealistic Journey. A 20 minute saga that rivals his work with Electric Moon for scope, but with a far more fluid, shifting early-Floyd suspension that builds and reverberates through the eye of some swirling organ storms. It’s a hallucinatory push and pull trip that stays on target, delivering plenty of hazed out detours. Both nebulous and razor-sharp, Surrealistic Journey is virtually a record unto itself. The title cut digs back down into the (under)ground for some grime and grind. Coupled with some soaring Mellotron, Dark Days is a peek into the engine room that drives Sula’s ship; heat, steam and flares from an exotic sun. Bright Nights isn’t the flip side to Dark Days, but here Sula shoots for the open spaces…gently vibrating and ringing through its initial lift-off. Bright Nights builds and folds into itself, focused on gathering mass over momentum for a full-on seething slow-crawl close, compressing itself into a diamond hard monolith. Arriving Nowhere, a winking misnomer, reaches back to some earlier, and gooier, ingredients for a pumping Krautrock flavored mammoth, stretching out to an almost 17 minute flight time. After moving through so many flavors and dynamics of space/psych rock so far on Dark Days, Arriving Nowhere is a natural progression…and destination. If Sula really has arrived nowhere, then you can bet your Tang and boosters he’s already in the planning stages to explore and colonize.
Dark Days is yet another addition to a body of work that is as staggering as it is satisfying. I came across a comment where someone made the quip that Sula must have cloned himself to keep up with his outrageous output, on his own and in his collaborations. Tempting, but his work is so consistently executed and realized there really can be no knock-offs involved. We’d hear it, feel it…and I doubt our intrepid captain would allow it.
Underground :: Sula Bassana :: Dark Days (2012, Sulatron)
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"This show is 110% … one of the most consistently awesome programs we have come across."
The Sunrise Ocean Bender sets sail every Monday morning, 1 – 3 a.m. on WRIR lp 97.3 FM, to find something for your ears, and something for your head … From psych to prog to pop and whatever tributary we can find on the way … and right back around again. There might be a map, but the destination is up for grabs. If it all goes right, we may just get lost. Meet me at the muster station … it might be a long week.