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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SUN DIAL: Science Fiction; A Compendium of Space Soundtrax (2018)

“Another jewel from Salutron, this album has a perfect balance between its main sources; either a blend of cosmic psy rock and rock of the 70's with an electronic vibe”

1 Hangar 13 4:34 2 White Stone 3:34 3 Mind Machine 3:03 4 Saturn Return 3:19 5 Space Travel 2:42 6 Alien X 3:07 7 Rise of The Robots 2:44 8 Airlock 3:32 9 Aftershock 3:25 10 Ghost Ship 3:35 11 Infra Red 3:15 12 Starwatchers 2:47 13 Hangar 13 (Long Version) (Bonus Track) 15:29 Sulatron Records 1802 (CD 55:06) (V.F.) (Spacy Psy Rock and Rock)

I owe some very interesting discoveries to Sula Bassana! Apart from his latest solo albums, the one who runs the Sulatron label introduced me to Son of Ohm and now to Sun Dial. Led by Gary Ramon, this English band has become over the years an icon in the genre of psychedelic rock. Except that since 2016, with the album Made in The Machine, Gary Ramon and his new journeyman Scorpio take on a particular challenge by adding a touch of electronic to a psychedelic music, transcending the borders of Krautrock, of psybient and of psybeat with a tasty approach of Space Rock totally crazy. SCIENCE FICTION; A COMPENDIUM OF SPACE SOUNDTRAX is a collection of 12 short titles whose cinematographic approach is quite obvious with an average time of 3:33 per title, excluding the bonus track. Sun Dial disguises its titles with a splendid sonic canvas where the terror is not too far from the cosmic and where the cosmos is really rooted in a seductive 1970's tone.

And it takes off with Hangar 13 and its musical envelope that makes me think strangely of Tomorrow Never Knows from the Beatles. The pace is slow. Pummeled by good and heavy percussions and chewed up by a bass line and its organic language, Hangar 13 is fed by a Hindu ambience with Sitar tones and with nice synth melodies. The ambiences are bursting with electronic sounds which flirt with the world of video games and with the boundaries of psychedelic music with twisted filaments and reverb effects. These elements adorn most of the titles of an album which literally surfs over several genres and more than one era. Percussion plays a decisive role as the guitars in SCIENCE FICTION. They propel the lustful rhythm of White Stone and its Ray Manzarek organ tones. Guitar solos as cosmic as horrifying swirl on this title which literally does Flower Power. Mind Machine follows with an aggressive Spacy Funk which survives very well in this sonic fauna where the line between psychedelia and the extraterrestrial vision of the 70's has never been so fusional. Fascinating again here, the bass line chewed our ears a long time after its last gurgling. Saturn Return reminds me of old good Bebop Deluxe. Its rhythm is slow, and hosts merged harmonies between an organ and a synth. Even while being sober, percussion and bass do the job while the sound effects of the cosmos remind us the meaning of the title. Short but effective!

I just love Space Travel! Its slow and magnetizing rhythm, where a fascinating melodic approach sits, is simply kiss-curl. A beautiful cosmic slow which ring the time of the sweetnesses of this album since Alien X follows with a structure slightly more lively built around orchestrations which sound out of tune in this strange spacey setting. The guitar riffs which weave 60's harmonies loops also stand out against the misty orchestrations of the Mellotron. We listen to Rise of The Robots and we say to oneself that indeed the music sticks to the title. The rhythm is catchy with a simplistic vision which sticks to the imagination of the creators of the time. It flows by the jolts of the drums and the bass, while the harmonies are woven into chords of which the echo effects adopt the robotic rhythm. Airlock clings a bit to the settings of Hangar 13, but with a more Doors vision, even with the presence of the Sitar. Aftershock also offers a thing near the beat in Hangar 13. Except that here, the envelope of the rhythm and of the moods is more in the 80's, in the synth wave era. Ghost Ship is elusive! A dark music, ideal for the horror movies of the silent years, with effects of reverberations which roll in loops in order to spread a tissue of percussions, organic riffs and psychedelic effects on a structure more fluid than jerky. We leave the universe of psychedelic cosmic rock a little on this title which remains quite mysterious when an intensity in the ambiances adds a bit of paranoia. Infra Red is a title which is very Beck, while Starwatchers concludes with the most cinematographic approach, especially at the level of the arrangements, of SCIENCE FICTION; A COMPENDIUM OF SPACE SOUNDTRAX. This fascinating compilation is offered with an extended version of Hangar 13, as a bonus track. The music transits between the original opening towards a more ambient, more acoustic finale. Both versions are very good and are also the unsuspected engine of an album that will seduce more than one with its sweet madness of the psychedelic years. In the end, Sun Dial offers here an astonishing range of psychedelic cosmic rock with just what it needs to appeal to a wider audience. Very great!

Sylvain Lupari (July 19th, 2018) *****

Available at Sulatron-Records

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