SULA BASSANA (Dark Days) 2LP/CD
Those of you who have a huge interest in space and psychedelic rock should know SULA BASSANA, the solo outfit of Dave Schmidt who is probably the most active musician in Germany's psychedelic rock scene. Besides SULA BASSANA he is involved in Electric Moon and Zone Six to name but a few. And in this context, it is necessary to state Sulatron Records, which is his own label. As can be seen, Dave Schmidt doesn't permit himself a break and continues to create sonic galaxies and lysergic soundscapes that are consistently compelling and beautiful. On that occasion it is noticeable that his work does not suffer from a lack of ideas and inspiration. In fact, the opposite tends to be the case.
All this also applies to 'Dark Days' that has been released in July 2012 by Sulatron Records. SULA BASSANA sends the listener on a musical journey through a world of subterranean cave systems, mystic places and lunar landscapes. Of course, this will take some time and I am not surprised that the lengths of the included six tracks is between 6:04 and 20:18 minutes, resulting in a complete playing time of 71:30 minutes. Perhaps this will put some people off, but one should bear in mind that we are talking here about space rock and not about rock 'n' roll. I think that a trip like this needs its time to become effective. As before, Dave Schmidt plays all instruments (guitar, bass, drums, synths, organ) but there are also two guest musicians, namely vocalist David Henriksson (The Movements) and Electric Moon co-founder Pablo Carneval who is playing drums and gong in the third track 'Surrealistic Journey' as well as in 'Bright Nights'.
The album kicks off with 'Underground' which has more in common with 1960's psychedelic rock, although Dave's liquid guitar playing pushes the song more and more towards space rock. David Henriksson's light footed voice provides a nice contrast to the pulsating beat and it wouldn't have bothered me to hear him more often in this song. 'Departure' is a thundering Hawkwind-esque space rocker and one of my favourite tracks of this album. It immediately brought to mind 'Hall Of The Mountain Grill' or 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' as it would have been a good match on both records. Next comes 'Surrealistic Journey' and it keeps what the song title promises, even if it never completely leaves the space rock context. But an organ provides for an additional stimulation of the synapses and makes things even more mystical. A jam-like feel is in the air although this does not mean that this song is not structured. Basically, the entire album is structured despite it's improvisational character - and there also lies one of the strengths of Dave Schmidt's music. He never loses contact with necessities, never works from the outside in; rather, his vision shows him an organism in which the exterior creates itself as a result of the interior.
To this can be added a kind of natural, earthy heaviness that seems to come from the core of the earth. I really dig his guitar tone, which is warm and crisp and I am always surprised to hear how many different sounds he can draw out of his instrument. This becomes particularly clear in 'Bright Nights' which is one of the darkest, most unconventional songs here. But, basically, 'Dark Days' is like a surprise packet where you never know what's around the corner. The last song 'Arriving Nowhere' is yet another example of how SULA BASSANA manages to hypnotize the listener like a snake charmer whereas the title song recalls once again mid-1970's Hawkwind. All in all, 'Dark Days' is a great, thoughtful piece of work I would highly recommend to all psychonauts and sonic space travellers.