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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Sula Bassana

Dark Days

Review by Gary Hill

What an intriguing blend of sounds we get on this set. Take psychedelia and mix it with space rock. Throw in some Rock in Opposition. Blend in some Pink Floyd and even some Clutch. Add a helping of King Crimson. Now you’ve got a pretty good idea of the musical recipe presented here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Underground

This powers in with a heavy duty Clutch goes psychedelic texture. It works out from there with more space rock added to the mix, feeling a bit like Hawkwind turned garage band/indie. There is more of that Clutch roots rock in the equation at other points. This is a great blend of sounds and a great way to start the disc in style. There is a killer space jam mid-track. Then that Clutch kind of rhythm section takes it out into another smoking hot excursion that does a great job of combining the space and psychedelic sounds. It turns towards an almost RIO like prog for a short time, but then we’re back to the song proper. A late section is very much like Hawkwind, but with a harder, rawer edge. It dissolves to pure space to end.

Departure
The melodic, but rocking space jam that opens this really feels like it could have come from one of the first few Hawkwind discs. They take things into more pure prog directions from there, though. After it works through that segment it powers out into some seriously hard rocking space music. Hawkwind is definitely a valid reference on that, too – most notably the Doremi… period of the band. This is an instrumental and quite a tasty one at that.
Surrealistic Journey
Psychedelic oddities open this up and as it begins to grow it resembles early Pink Floyd quite a bit. At over twenty minutes in length, this epic piece moves forward by combining that kind of sound with some more Hawkwind and even some Doors. I even make out some Iron Butterfly at times. This becomes quite an awesome piece of music, never changing quickly, but also never standing still. While it’s very much a smooth ride, there is a lot of dynamic range, in terms of volume levels, moods and textures throughout. This has some awesome instrumental work and since it is a purely instrumental tune, that says a lot.
Dark Days
Noisy and echoey bass sounds really drive a lot of this tune. It truly does feel dark and it’s very heavy. It’s also very cool. It’s one of the most unusual, sort of like Tool meets Hawkwind, but also one of the tastiest. A heavy, crunchy, noisy sort of backdrop is topped with lush space keyboards creating a great contrast and powerful musical motif. There’s a triumphant, more purely progressive rock sounding, movement later in the piece, too. Some noisy space rock emerges further down this musical highway.
Bright Nights
Mellow and seemingly random, sparse music opens this in a definitely noisy, but spacey way. It becomes echoey and rather RIO-like and quite experimental as it builds very gradually. In a lot of ways the empty spaces are important as those filled with sound here. That sort of seemingly disjointed approach drives the first six minutes plus of the cut. Then it powers out into a jam that combines heavy metal with space rock in a killer texture. This thing might be weird in the first portion, but it’s also very tasty. More noisy space emerges as this instrumental draws to its close.
Arriving Nowhere
As this cut rises up there is some funk combined with Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly and Hawkwind-like sounds. Later, though, it turns out to more percussive based, modern King Crimson-like jamming that’s not far removed from something by Djam Karet. Eventually it moves back out to more standard noisy space rock. This one also remains purely instrumental. It’s also very tasty.
 
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