SULA BASSANA: The Ape Regards His Tail (2017)
“With its blend of Krautrock, The Ape Regards His Tail has this unsuspected freshness for a work bordering so near the analog years”
1 Beginning 5:38 2 Dreams 2:30 3 Rocks 1 3:22 4 Desert 9:11 5 Sand Waves 9:46 6 Rocks 2 3:15 7 Water 20:03 8 Ending 4:58 Sulatron Records – ST1705
(CD 58:43) (V.F.) (Ambient, minimalist, Cosmic Rock)
That's what I call a find! I didn't know Sula Bassana before he has contacted me so that I write something about his last album, THE APE REGARDS HIS TAILS. A soundtrack for a Michael Yates' movie about a man without memory that wakes up in a desert and tries to discover what is going on, this album is a little jewel of EM of the analog years. It's fill of nice soundscapes that will enchant the ears of those who devoured the first floating works of Klaus Schulze, in a more musical way, and the first movements of Tangerine Dream's sequencer. But who is Sula Bassana? The aficionados of psychedelic German rock, kind of Electric Orange, Agitation Free and Modulfix to name but a few, recognize this name which in reality is the one of Dave Schmidt, founder and guitarist of the trio of cosmic and psychedelic rock Electric Moon. With about forty albums to his credit, it's clear that we are dealing with a complete artist who is capable of working in any musical sphere. And nevertheless, THE APE REGARDS HIS TAILS is a first for the German musician. A first soundtrack which unites admirably well the images and the atmospheres of a movie intended for a public who wants to see more than the spectacular.
The album begins with a drop of sound which falls on a metallic pellicle taut at the most, irradiating the multiple sonic arcs of Beginning. Other drops fall and their echoes call a distant Tibetan world while the arcs which widen are fading their vibes into ambient airs, merging into a sonic horizon as much penetrating than the arid breaths of the desert. A bridge could have united Beginning to Dreams, so much the atmospheres of the sibylline harmonies of the winds are quite similar. And we notice for the first time this fragrance of ether which has nourished the first works of Klaus Schulze. The drops of sounds are replaced here by fine movements as so edgy as a sound scalpel which moves in loops. Rocks 1 establishes the first stammerings of a rhythm pushed by pulsations and by reverberations of gong. One would say some breathes of machinery which ally its threatening shadows to the chant of a Mellotron. Tears of a six-strings add a psychedelic dimension to this fascinating walking towards the unknown. We have just entered in the heart of this soundtrack. Such as a vagabond in the desert surrounded by mirages, Desert follows with this hypnotic rhythmic heaviness which has livened up Rocks 1. If the decoration is more musical, the heavy and thirsty walking of the rhythm is true candy for those who are crazy about those quiet minimalist structures. Structures which are used as a pretext to throw in the air some notes of a wandering guitar and effects of the vagabond of sounds, the journeyman of the man without memory, to establish a very Floyd climate, era prior to Meddle.
I like what I hear so far because the music is a kind of free love between the psychedelic atmospheres of Ash Ra Temple, Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. And it's even more obvious with Sand Waves and its Chris Franke structure of sequenced rhythm. That does very TD with a skillful insertion of guitar loops which spin like those of Manuel Göttsching at the top of his psychedelic vision. Those loops and effects of reverberations structure a spasmodic dance that only the sequencer moderates with its cold and without nuance approach. Obviously, I love it! And I sincerely thought that Sand Waves was the peak of this album. But I had not heard yet, in its entirely, Water. Ornamented of more different voices, Rocks 2 is as the return to basics, to the atmospheres of THE APE REGARDS HIS TAILS. A little as if our man without memory walked round and round. From the height of its 20 minutes, Water is a pure monument of ambient, of floating music unique to the model of Klaus Schulze, period Cyborg. The dark breezes which accompany the slow movement of the keyboard are a little like a communion between the music of Steve Roach and that of Schulze in a climate of callousness which only the delicate implosions animate of an underground life. A more industrial entity spreads layers of drones whereas quite quietly Water goes to a wonderful moment of ecstasy with a multiplication of organ layers which add an incredible dose of adrenalin to our emotions. Intense, the finale embraces our soul with a fascinating implosive immersion. The last 10 minutes of this title are of an extreme sound intensity with a very retro tone. After the blackness, the drought and the despair, the waltz of glittering arpeggios of Ending, one would believe to hear Steve Roach in Now & Traveller era, is like a balm for our nomad without past. And nevertheless, nothing is that sure!
Without making a song and dance, THE APE REGARDS HIS TAILS lands in our ears with an unsuspected freshness for a work so near of the analog years. The minimalist approach as well as this link between Krautrock and EM of the70's make of this album an inescapable to the fans of the kind. A wonderful find which deserves that I dive a little farther into Sula Bassana's universe. I'll talk about him soon. Very soon. It's a promise.
Sylvain Lupari (July 31st, 2017) ****½*
Available at Sula Bassana Bandcamp