. issue I : viii .

by barathron

. artist : sula bassana .
. album : dark days .
. year : 2012 .
. label : sulatron .
. grade : a .



While we blink and recover from Cellar Space Live Overdose, the last opus from Sula Bassana’s other full-time job with Electric Moon, he 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 vocal duty on opener “Underground.” Though not forsaken totally, Sula leapfrogs over some of his mellower 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: it’s a 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 60’s/early 70’s vibe retooled for the modern age. Henriksson’s vocals are a perfect fit: flowing, wobbly, and mysterious, like a cruise director through the underground. These vocals trade off with Sula’s wah-wah pedal exploitation in an exceptional opening salvo. Up from the underground, it’s time for “Departure,” a Hawkwind-flavored repetitious trek that lives up to its name, escalating Dark Days and docking itself next to the arguable centerpiece “Surrealistic Journey.” “Journey” it is indeed: a 20-minute saga that rivals Sula’s work with Electric Moon for scope, but that consists in a far more fluid, shifting, early-Floyd suspension that builds and reverberates through the eye of 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 (of heat, steam, and flares from an exotic sun) that drives Sula’s ship. “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 an online quip that Sula must have cloned himself to keep up with his outrageous output, immense both individually and in collaborations. Though it’s tempting to agree, Sula’s work is so consistently executed and realized that there really can be no knock-offs involved. We’d hear it and feel it … and I doubt our intrepid captain would allow it.

by Mr. Atavist

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