Jul 10, 2012
Sula Bassana - "Dark Days" ...
On this album Dave plays guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers, organ and mellotron. He has David Henriksson of The Movements who sings on the opening track but apart from that, this is all the work of mostly just one-man. While the album has been given the title 'Dark Days,' the record itself is not very dark at all, this is more of a surrealistic, psych-rock journey with long to even longer jammy tunes. The longest is the 21 minutes of 'Surrealistic Journey' which goes through so many moods and styles, writing a review for the track would require a book. This track perhaps sums of the sound and approach of Sula Bassana better than most. There are psychedelic noodling passages, jazzy breaks, heavier psych-rock sections and guitar experimentation's that are constantly throwing the listener a curve ball but this is just 21 minutes of the disc, there is another 50 minutes of trippy music to get through.
The opening tune 'Underground' is based around Dave's amazingly diverse guitar work and is one of the more straight-ahead psych rock tracks on the album. The following 'Departure' is only 6 minutes long but in that short amount of time puts you into a hypnotic state of mind with a spaced-out Hawkwindish mind-bender of a track. That then bleeds into epic 21-minute long 'Surrealistic Journey' which at just three tracks into the album is the be-all and end-all of Sula Bassana. The album could end right here and I would be more than satisfied but there is more, a whole lot more to get excited about. 'Surrealistic Journey' however is the albums centerpiece and the albums most drugged-out statement of musical brilliance. From the wah-wah guitar to atmospheric organ sections, this track is a pure trip with sounds that swirl around the room and some pulverizing, propulsive rhythms that rattle the brain. The track is so epic and grandiose that perhaps it would have been better as the last track on 'Dark Days' as after sitting through this epic piece, the rest of the album as great as it is seems to take second-place in terms of what is memorable about the album.
The title track features mellotron and distorted guitar that gets very heavy at times, almost doomy or sludge-metal like in its intensity but as with most of the album, these moments are used sparingly and nothing is overused and abused and this helps in keeping this long album flowing. 'Bright Nights' mellows things out ever so slightly as the album takes a brief turn towards the ambient and the experimental. There is feedback, guitar noodling that reminded me of some of Robert Fripp's solo work but at over 10 minutes long, this track ends up being the albums weak-point as it is the only time in the album where things seem to drag on a little. Luckily for us, the album ends on a surprisingly heavy track titled 'Arriving Nowhere' which explores everything from sludge to jazz to funk to psychedelic and old-fashioned krautrock. There is a lot of tempo-changes and mood swings that ramble on for over 17 minutes. Just like 'Surrealistic Journey' the track seems much shorter than what it actually is as there is no moments where the track seems to get trapped or lost. Dave Schmidt seems to be never short on ideas and they are always good ideas which is amazing when you consider how much music this guy has created.
This man has done it again. 'Dark Days' is a stunning, ambitious release that seems to come so easy and naturally for this prolific and gifted musician. For psychedelic rock, you can't get much better than this. It is almost a no-brainer than this WILL BE the psychedelic album of the year. Highly recommended.....9/10.
Sula Bassana’s Official Website
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