Sula Bassana – “Shipwrecked” (Sulatron Records 2015, CD/LP)

You never know what to expect from a new Sula Bassana album. It might be a full band rocker or Dave “Sula” Schmidt solo with electronics. Shipwrecked charts a somewhat middle ground course, with the music being a celebration of the Sula vintage instruments arsenal.

Though primarily keyboard/synth/electronic driven, the opening track Moonbase Alpha Alpha has a rocking and somewhat Motorik rhythmic pulse. The beats and melodies give the music a Kraftwerk/Neu! feel, the drones, floating electronica and syncopations inject a bit of sci-fi soundtrack, and the whole feels like a pulsating and grooving slab of electro robotic yet soundscape enveloped Space Rock. Shushi Express ups the rhythmic ante with a dancey tribal groove which is coupled with a pulsating Eastern flavored chant drone and shamanic melody. I like how Sula combines multiple contrasting yet seamlessly cohesive repetitive elements to create a hypno-throb meditational groove meets alien dance party piece. No Time: No Eternity is like an Eloy/Floydian Space-Prog soundtrack anchored by a single attention grabbing throb beat and a spellbinding Mellotronic string melody. Sula escalates the trance-throb effect on Planeta Bur, which is characterized by mesmerizingly swaying harem scarem Arabian melodies, drones and atmospherics. The title track is a peacefully somber yet uplifting electro string ensemble that my mind’s eye sees performed among the planetarium dome stars. And No Way is a brief early 70s analog synth sounding call to cosmic prayer coda to this outstanding set.

Reviewing this album right after the latest Electric Moon reissue only reinforces my belief that Dave Schmidt is one of the most multi-faceted talents on the contemporary Space/Psych scene. And he’s a busy guy too, running the Sulatron label and playing what seems to be a fair number of live performances throughout the year.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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