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The Thrilling Space Rock of Sula Bassana

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Sula Bassana (aka Dave Schmidt) has been recording space music for a long time, fusing elements of space, rock, trance, psychedelic and krautrock to generate a fresh new sound that literally seethes with charm and beauty.

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SULA BASSANA: Kosmonauts (CD on Sulatron Records)

This release from 2010 offers 60 minutes of trancey spacerock.

Sula plays: synthesizers, drumbox, sequencer, guitar, sampler, and mouthharp.

Electronics and guitar merge with beats to produce a highly entrancing sonic experience.

The electronics are versatile, running the gamut from gritty whirling gears to sweet resonance to glittering diodes. Keyboards are used to establish fluid melodies in conjunction with bubbling electronics.

The guitar offers a slick presence with riffs that growl and soar. Providing slippery passages that lurk within the mix, the guitar is often subliminal and well disguised. On other occasions, however, the instrument shines with a pyrotechnic glow, generating riffs of cosmic luster and passionate influence. There are even instances in which the guitar's voice adopts a guttural roar, not unlike a prehistoric beast.

The rhythms are complex and adroitly hypnotic.

Few spacerock musicians utilize mouthharp in their music, but Bassana is daring--and superbly skillful, coaxing distinctly unconventional pulsations from this primitive instrument. These vibrations possess a lovely charisma, and the way they are mixed in with the modern sounds is entirely startling--and thoroughly stunning.

These compositions tend to be a fair blend of trance with spacerock, fusing the two genres into a glorious new persona that will not only appeal to fans of each style, but convert loyalty from those who have displayed little interest in either. The tunes float with luxurious enthusiasm, while simultaneously blazing with an understated fervor that is quite infectious.

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SULA BASSANA & MODULFIX: Brain Wash (CD on Sulatron Records)

This release from 2010 offers 58 minutes of powerful spacerock.

Bassana plays: synthesizer, bass, drums, guitars, and monochord. Modulfix (aka Martin Schorn from Zone 6) plays: synthesizer, guitars, drumloops, didgeridoo, and bells. Joining them is Komet Lulu on additional didgeridoo.

Here, the spacerock is given a pleasant touch of bounce with energetic rhythms and lively electronics.

The electronics are profuse and tend to merge with the flow, defying exact definition, allowing the guitars to flourish and dominate with their expressive voices. There is ample evidence, though, where keyboards take over to create lavish passages of sultry tuneage.

The guitars are more prominent here, releasing tasty squeals of an astral nature, conjuring the type of riffs whose shimmer endures long after the notes have passed. There's a lot of dual guitarwork, establishing contrasting riffs that blend rhythm and lead into a plethora of vivid dazzle. There's even an instance of acoustic guitar, providing an earthy touch amid the cosmic milieu.

The rhythms exhibit a durable quality, contributing puissant locomotion to the tunes.

Growling basslines lend a throbbing foundation for the ascendant melodies.

These compositions throb with commanding power, but at the same time the music displays an enticing mesmerizing character that bewitches the listener with its sinuous melodies and delightful modifications. The last track features a didgeridoo overload in tandem with some rather ponderous electronics--intensity at its finest.

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ELECTRIC MOON: Lunatics (CD on Nasoni Records)

This release from 2011 offers 72 minutes of psychedelic jam rock.

Electric Moon is: Pablo Carneval (on drums), Sula Bassana (on guitars, organ, and voice), and Komet Lulu (on bass and voice).

Grooving jams consisting of glistening guitar, guttural bass, slippery organ, and powerhouse drumming.

Here, the guitar shines as the lead instrument, delving into diverse avenues of shimmering sonic ambrosia with durable riffs that meander and explore new territory with effortless ease. Whether growling, shining, squealing or indulging in nimble-fingered pinnacles, the guitarwork is superb and captivating.

The bass thumps along with careful attention to providing a sultry bottom. There are tasty instances in which the instrument musters a throaty grumble that pierces the listener's gut with its bestial bellow.

The percussion is perfectly matched for this type of adventurous jamming. The rhythms are steadfast and crisp, straightforward as they supply appropriate tempos, or complex when allowed to take the lead position.

The organ is particularly classic, lubricating passages with oily chord sweeps and lurking within the mix as sinuous drones.

Fem vocals and winsome organ highlight a moody version of Eric Burden's "Hotel Hell."

While these songs were all recorded in a studio, they possess a distinct festival jam demeanor. Hints of blues are immersed in the spacey motifs, bestowing a certain accessibility to the tuneage despite its overall psychedelic intentions.

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ZONE SIX: 10 Years of Aural Psychedelic Journeys (CD on Sulatron Records)

This release from 2007 offers 80 minutes of psychedelic music.

Since this is a collection CD, with tracks spanning a decade, the band line-up tends to change as time goes on. Zone Six's nucleus members are: Dave Schmidt (on bass and effects), Martin Schorn (on electronics), Julius K (on guitar), Rusty (on electronics and voice), and Hans-Peter Ringholz (on guitar). Early incarnations of the band include: Jodi Barry (on vocals), Claus Buhler, Ray Meibner, and Walt Jahn (on drums), and a special appearance by Ben Basgard (from Coydog). Of the eight tracks featured, three were recorded in studio, five recorded live at various festivals.

Solid spacerock with emphasis on jams and psychedelic inclinations.

The guitars provide the backbone for the tunes, with multiple instruments generating lavishly interweaving trance-inducing riffs. These riffs are highly liquid, ever-changing, mutating into even more enticing sonic constructions. There's gutsy searing chords, there's glistening slide intonations, there's wobbly treatments of fascinating capability.

The electronics are often secondary, hiding in the mix so that their influence is subliminal. The effects slide and ooze like phantoms, activating the resonance of everything else. As the tunes become more recent, the electronics become more prominent, establishing their own zones of screeching weirdness.

The bass snarls amid that buried strata, its rumble transmogrifying the melodies.

The percussion is exactly what you want in space jams: persistent and dependable with periodic tendencies to engage in rhythmic explosions.

The vocals (on early tracks) lend a humanity to those songs. The later period material are instrumentals.

While somewhat raw in the band's early days, the music achieves a refined sparkle as times progresses, transforming from spacey Grateful Dead-esque jams to more clarified structures glittering with modern technology The real charm of spacerock comes from the unity of the instruments, not how they individually sound, and here that fusion works superbly.

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