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Review + Q&A: Sound Of Smoke- Phases (2023, Tonzonen Records)

Have you ever wondered what the sound of smoke sounds like? Well you won’t find out here, but judging from the cover and the psychedelic rock oozing out of the speakers while playing Phases, Sound Of Smoke from Freiburg sure do like to smoke one themselves!

With a huge progression from their previous album, especially production wise, Phases engulfs the listener, drowning you in a purple haze. Beautiful, beautiful vocals pop up out of nowhere like sirens, drawing you in, and for three quarters of an hour you’ll be entranced.

The songs are subtle, stripped, and on point, always including enough earwurm to stick with you, but not so much as to be poppy or annoying. The band has truly found their own sound, a rare thing in female fronted psych rock, where belting divas often set the tone. Not here though. Singer Isabelle Bapté keeps you on your toes, her aura radiating more 60s beat pop than 70s larger than life rock (I am looking at you Blues Pills!). Which in my humble opinion is a very good thing, and a feature that makes them stand out from the rest.

So what does smoke sound like? I still do not know. But I do know that Phases is a perfect album to smoke one to. Just let the haze hit your eyes, and let Sound Of Smoke take care of your ears.

Interview time of course! I talked to the band, and they all pinched in for the answers. Nowadays singer Isabelle has moved away from their hometown of Freiburg to live in the big city of Berlin, but that does not hold Sound Of Smoke back…not even close!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Sound Of Smoke?

Hi! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to do this interview! We are all fine, we just had our pre-release show and we are very excited for the official release of our new album Phases. The pandemic period was very productive for us. We wrote most of our Songs in this time and in 2021 we went to the Big Snuff Studio in Berlin to record the songs for the upcoming album. Of course the pandemic had also some negative effects. There where no live shows and meeting with the band was not always easy due to all regulations. ‘Anyway we are happy this time is over and we are looking forward to play a lot of shows in 2023.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

The band was founded by Isabelle, the singer and florian (former guitar player – now Bass and synth). Florian knew the Drummer Johannes from school and he was in to jam and see whats gonna happen. As the final member, Jens joined the band and became the guitar player of Sound of Smoke. After 2 years of searching for their musical direction, the quartet released their first LP Eletheromania in 2018 and 2021 followed the LP Tales via Tonzonen.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We all have a similiar taste of music. We are all strongly influenced from the psychedlic retro bands of the 60s/70s. Also the german kraut bands like NEU, Kraan, Kraftwerk have affected the sound of the band. But the roots of the music are mainly coming from blues and boogie.

Anyway we never tried to copy anyone and we where looking for our own way of creating music and going for new directions.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

The members of the band all have jobs next to music (unfortunately). So we are mainly avarage working people… But if we talk about a free day for all the band. It probably would start with a nice brunch followed by some somke 😉 then a lot of jamming, dinner and a show at night for the perfect day with the band 🙂

What is the best thing about Phases?

Thats a hard one. The songs for the album where created in different times (Phases) of the band. Some songs existed long before corona others came to life in this time, some where written just days before the studio. So that is it what inspired us for the title Phases. The songs vary from heavy to soft to psychedlic to stoner. Blues to kraut to oriental. The best thing of the record is probably that we are finally can release it and finally have a proper LP with descent sound. Also we really love the artwork, which was done by an artist called Mirkow Gastow.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all used to live in Freiburg (south west Germany). Now Isabelle moved to Berlin but we still will continue to make music, even if its now a bit harder then before. Berlin is a paradise for creative people and any sub culture you can think of. Freiburg is compared to Berlin a pretty small and quite town. But the music scene is very active there and full of talented musicians. Of course there is room for improvements. Rehearsal rooms are pretty hard to find and most sub cultural live venues had to close down.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

King Buffalo, All Them Witches, DeWolff, Pentagram, Electric Octopus, and many many more. And all the old dudes who are still alive of course as well (Sabbath, Floyd, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane).

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Most of our songs are created from jams. We pick different parts from the jams and put it together to an arrangement. Then mostly isabelle is adding the lyrics. After that we are rehearsing the songs and change the structure.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

For this year we want to focus on the release of the LP. We plan to play some festivals in summer and maybe do a little tour later that year. We are also working on new songs but this will take time. We plan to go to the studio in 2024 and hopefully release the new record end of 2024.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Smoke a spliff and listen to our new record 😀

Thanks so much for this interview! Lots of Love to all supporters and listeners out there!

Isa, Flo, Jens, Johannes

Review + Q&A: Buddha Sentenza- High Tech Low Life (2023, Pink Tank Records)

Buddha Sentenza does not play it hard to get on their new album High Tech Low Life. From the the get go album opener Oars puts it all out there, everything that makes this band so freaking awesome in nine glorious minutes. The Heidelberg, German instrumental band consists of five individuals, each wearing their distinct influences on their sleeves. On Oars you can hear it in an energetic culmination of heavy metal, prog rock, punk, space rock, and soundtrack atmospheres. It is in-your-face-heavy, virtuoso, but has its subtle moments as well where guitarist B.B. Blacksheep shines on violin.

video for Ricochet

There is a strong sense of joy emanating from the album. A more commercial band might opt for a more uniform sound perhaps, but you can hear these guys are bored easily. Not a minute is the same, and the songs gallop in all kinds of different directions from double bass drum trigger happy to epic fantasy movie soundscapes. Buddha Sentenza does what they want, and they sound thrilled doing it.

By being stubborn and sticking to their own values they have created a thing of their own that is hard to relate to anything else going on at the moment. I will give it a shot. Within the instrumental rock/metal spectrum they might be closer to a band like Long Distance Calling then to many of the more improvisational jam bands out there, but there are some Farflung-related space rock parts as well (synthesizers from outer space). They are not quite as technical as Animals As Leaders (they definitely don’t “djent” -thank buddha-), but they make up plenty by being adventurous and original. Ultimately though, Buddha Sentenza is their own beast. High Tech Low Life is a unique album of five gifted musicians doing what they love, and doing it right.

I talked to drummer Tom “Jesus Malverde” of the band about their new album, the place they are from, and contemporary influences. If anything, he definitely is as passionate about music as he sounds like drumming.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Buddha Sentenza?

The conditions for small underground acts and event organizers were already tough before the pandemic. This situation became even worse, but we don’t want to complain, we still keep on doing what we love.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

We met as students at the University of Heidelberg who enjoyed playing as a jam project together, just directly what came in our minds. Time after time we began to develop more complex song structures, but still integrate jam parts till this day.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We have different musical backgrounds. I played in a punk band before, the guitar players are more into metal, the bassist played garage/indy rock and the keyboarder is a prog head.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I work mainly as a drum teacher in a music school, but beside that I also run a small screenprint business and organize underground shows.

What is the best thing about High Tech, Low Life (and what does the title mean)?

The title is an hommage to an old friend of us called Ombo. He was a homeless man who lived a while in our rehearsal complex. He was a connoisseur of the art of living, a bohemian and a hedonist. He was the perfect example of a man living in a modern world but really reflected his needs and was satisfied with the little property he got and showed us that you don‘t need much to be happy.He was also an artist, who used everyday garbage to create partial complex art. That impressed us.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We live in Heidelberg, Germany, but originally I came from a small village where you had no options to do music and art and stuff. So we where forced to create our own entertainment by going in the fields with an generator and played from the back of a tractor trailer. We‘re used to create our own creative environment. We like the idea that you don‘t just consume culture. Create culture yourself and live the D.I.Y. spirit. If the environment doesn‘t fit your needs, start getting active yourself.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Mhhh, I‘m not the hyping type of guy and no fan of big names. I prefer people doing their stuff without any intentions of getting rich and famous. So I would recommend the underrated artists. To drop some Names however: Oma Hans, Nekropsi, Clutchy Hopkins, Dakh Daughters, Neptunian Maximalism, The Budos Band, Dead Quiet, Daniel Higgs, Matt Eliott.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Sometimes we just start jamming and arrange the occured parts we like the most. Sometimes one of the guitar players develop a basic structure and then we add instrument after instrument to it until all of us played a part. It‘s quite grass roots democracy based.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Playing Shows, releasing more music, meeting interessting people, having a good time.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

In general support your local underground, visit shows, buy some merch or start beeing creative yourself. In particular visit our bandcamp Site or check out some Videos on Youtube we did and maybe leave a comment.

Review + Q&A: Warp- Bound By Gravity (2023, Nasoni Records)

I should not like Warp as much as I do. Their raw mixture of stoner rock and doom metal is far from the left field weirdo psych I mostly enjoy these days. And yet, Bound By Gravity has a certain something that draws me back to it each time.

The Israeli trio mines the oldschool stoner well from which legendary early acts like Astroqueen and 7Zuma7 sprung. They add aggressive yelling vocals that remind me of Big Business and enough jamming and repetitive solos to make this record a favorite for the real stoners that like. to get high and dive into their speakers.

I thoroughly enjoy the raw honesty with which this record is crafted. What you see is what you get, and that is three guys riffing the hell out and just having a good time. Nothing more, but definitely nothing less either. If you like to toke up from time to time and enjoy a good riff then don’t let anything stop you from blasting the new Warp album this year.

I found guitarist and vocalist Itai Alzaradel at home in Tel Aviv, Israel, and more than willing to talk about his band. We chatted about line up changes, growing up punks, and being under the influence…of good music.

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath been for Warp?

We’re good, thanks! The pandemic caught on us a bit after our first European tour, which made everything stop for a while. We took the time and started writing new material from scratch, trying out riffs, dig a bit deeper and finding sounds and writing directions which eventually lead to a new album which we are very proud of. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

I’m Itai, I play guitar and contribute some lead vocals. Me and Sefi (Bass+Vocals) were roommates back in 2014, having known each other since we were teenagers in the Israeli Punk scene, we always played in Punk/Hardcore/Post-Hardcore bands. At some point we must have sat in our shitty living room and expressed our desire to form a more riff-driven and heavier band which will incorporate our Doom/Stoner/Rocknroll influences. Our friend Ezra joined the band as a drummer and we began writing and practicing for a while without anyone knowing. Eventually we played some shows but soon after, Ezra left after being involved in a traffic accident and not wanting to drum anymore. 

We asked Mor, who was playing in multiple bands and was always a cool guy to hang around with to join us, so this is the current lineup, for the past 4-5 years or so. Each of us contribute to the writing process, we all share leading vocal duties, we all write lyrics – so it’s very much a team effort. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

As I mentioned, me and Sefi come from the Punk scene, both played in several bands, mostly Punk/Hardcore/Post-Hardcore stuff. We knew Mor as the drummer of one of the coolest Punk bands around – Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but he’s more of an all-around band member, playing a lot with Rock/Heavy Metal bands.  I feel like all of us brought the Punk attitude and energies into the first record, which can be identified by the raw sound and sheer energy and by the fact that we recorded it 100% DIY at our practice space. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Unfortunately, Rock music, especially alternative Rock, isn’t very popular in Israel which requires us to work regular jobs. I (Itai) work as HR at a cyber company, Mor is a software developer and Sefi is a Pro dog trainer. After the workday is done, we meet with at the practice space (each of us has several active bands) and then home! 

What is the best thing about Bound By Gravity?

For me, it’s the broader sound we achieved, compared to the previous album. The fact that each song is a bit different but remains interesting. Also, the fact we’re 3 different vocalists which adds more diversity to the record, and last, the lyrics. Our lyrics are more about everyday life, dealing with our experience living in a very problematic place, politically. That’s why “The Hunger” or “You Fascist Pigs are Back” have more substance, in my eyes. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all live around Tel Aviv, which is one of the only cities around where artists/musicians go to, given its liberal atmosphere, even though living in Tel Aviv has become impossibly expensive. Tel Aviv’s alternative scene is small and consists of people from all over the country who looked for something else and poured into Tel Aviv at a certain stage. There aren’t a lot of bands in the genre so a lot of the times shows would be very versatile – sharing stages with both Punk and Death Metal bands or even some Noise or Indie ones. 

We didn’t get to play a lot of shows since the pandemic, exactly because we were spending the time writing and recording. Also, Mor left us for almost a year to live in Holland, but now he’s back and the record is ready, we can’t wait to perform again. 

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?

I listen to a lot of Hardcore Punk and dig the New York scene – mostly the Toxic State roster. I think a lot of the bands there were able to give Punk an extra edge with a lot of wit and innovation. I love Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Witch, Dopelord – these are the bands who manage to combine heavy riffs and melodic vocals, like what we do. Also Pigs X 7 are pretty fucking awesome (Viscerals SHREDS!), successfully combining elements of both stoner and punk. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Most of the times we jam together, finding some cool riffs/lines and build the song from there. Sometimes one of us will bring an idea from home and we’ll develop it together but as I said before, It’s a team effort. On this record we wrote most of the materials without any lyrics for several reasons such as our willing to experiment with lyrics once the instrumental track is done. At some point we suggested recording the instrumental parts, listen to them and get the inspiration, which eventually worked out. 

Some of my songs were written on my way to the session. My writing is very intuitive and involves whatever is going on in my head at a certain point. Sefi and Mor’s writing is a bit different, each has his own methods, I guess. The recordings themselves were also pretty swift, recording most of the backing tracks live and layering some lead guitars over in one weekend. Later on we got to mess with some sounds and effects that gave more depth to the tracks. 

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

For me the dream is to stay “hungry” to create some interesting new stuff and to be able to share it with the world.  Would love nothing more than to tour once again, get exposed to new crowds and meet new people. The ideal is to do so until we die. Anyone anywhere who’s interested in booking us, can email to warptlv@gmail.com.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Go get our new LP from our label Nasoni Records . Our first single out of it titled “Dirigibles” will be out on January 3rd, so look it up as well!  The whole album will be available on all streaming platforms from February 1st. Look it up! 

Review + Q&A: Rulaman- To Serve The Dune (2023, Tonzonen Records)

Stuttgart, Germany natives Rulaman are a progressive rock trio who’s main goal seems to be to free themselves of any shackles traditional hard rock brings with it. On To Serve The Dune they partly succeed in this. It is an album that is quite hard to pinpoint, crossing over territories like modern prog rock, heavy blues, and post rock, preferably all at the same time.

So stirring this pot of various styles definitely breaks the regular hard rock mold, and at times the album shines with refreshing takes on progressive rock. At the same time the band also stays within hard rock’s confinements, mostly in their songwriting, in which they still hesitate to let go completely. In stead they write a bunch of solid songs, sometimes based on riffs, sometimes based on vocalized storylines.

They resemble modern prog rock heroes Porcupine Tree in that aspect, but of course it would be a bit too much to ask from a debut album to already tip a similar peak of quality. The vocals for instance could use some maturing, through smoke or whiskey or otherwise. I feel the depth and adventurous nature of the music could have used a more weathered narrator.

In the end though, To Serve The Dune is mostly a very enjoyable album, made by musicians that strive towards a very noble goal. To be break out from the restraints that tie so many young rock bands to forgetfulness and mediocrity. Rulaman are almost there…keep on walking that dune boys!

I talked to guitarist and vocalist Felix Berns about band life in the South of Germany, writing songs, and musical backgrounds. I found a very well spoken and cerebral musician who seems to know exactly what he is doing…

How are you? How has the past year(s) been for you as musicians?

Thanks I’m good and it’s getting better 😀 The past years have been stressful as a band but still a lot of fun. When Corona hit Germany we all fell into a kind of shook state. We kinda took this time to reflect on us as a band and what we wanted to represent and how we wanted to make music. It was during this process that we realized we needed to take things elsewhere and downsized ourselves from a 4 pice into a trio. Which obviously brought its own new challenges but 2 years Later, well almost 3 I think we came out the right end and are thriving as musicians and bandmates more than ever. 

Can you introduce yourselves?

My Name is Felix Berns, 27 years old I am the guitarist and vocalist. On drums we have Nils Kunze 23 years of age and featured on bass and keys is 26 year old Joel Büttner.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Well our musical backgrounds are pretty different I suppose. I personally grew up with a lot of music around me my mother being a huge Bowie fan I naturally despised Bowie early on haha. As I grew older I realized it was only a childish sentiment but my musical awakening came pretty late when I discovered Metallica. From then I dove deeper into metal eventually reaching Led Zeppelin. That opened up a whole new dimension for me.

Nils -I think- always grew up around a lot of more progressive and and psychedelic rock from the 60/70 and so own. With Pink Floyd being something his parents showed him a lot and Porcupine Tree a big influence. Much like Joel who had a teacher that we he and I shared but he introduced him to a lot of blues music from the same era like Cream and Clapton in general. But I think as we grew older we all delved into our own kind of thing where as I Like to listen to a lot of newer Doom, Metal and Psychedelic Rock Bands, Joel listens to a lot of more Jazz infused music.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Well a regular day is pretty different when it comes to comparing our indivual lives. I personally am currently working part-time as a kindergarden teacher. But after work things are entered a lot around Rulaman. But I still do like to play video games as well. Nils is currently studying so his day to day is probably a lot different from mine and Joel is a full time musician so he basically only puts down the bass when he goes to bed 😀

What is the best thing about To Serve The Dune?

I feel like the best things about new the LP is probably the fact it is our first full length LP and a lovely green vinyl haha. But seriously I was just super fun making it. We put a lot of effort into it while recording and mixing the thing and I’m super proud of how it all came together, especially with Tonzonen and the great support we got from them.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We’re all from the south of Germany near Stuttgart. Anyone who’s ever been a creative from around there knows it’s probably not the hot bed for musicians. There’s a great and very passionate concert hall just around the corner of our recoding studio but other than that the town is pretty much a low for creatives. So that’s a kind of extra motivation to not let yourself down from the place and create something that can reach further than the cites reach.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

Good question. I feel like the main reach here is just creating something that not only has value but means something for us and the people listening to our music. Also for me I feel like it’s necessary to make music and create. Yeah it’s kind of an escape but sometimes it can be a head on confrontation with all sorts of Things. Oneself, society, politics all kind of things around you. And for me, what really drives me is hearing your music and playing it live or in the studio and that moment when your close your eyes and just listen and flow into the music while creating it..becoming a part of it. I guess that’s the thing I’m kind of aiming for. For people to get lost in our music and find something that’s for them.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?

Well in the past we’ve released 2 EPs and a standalone single and especially for the last self titled EP RULAMAN things changed quite a lot.

The songs on that record were written shortly pre-covid and we were in that state of confusion were we rearranged ourselves. So RULAMAN became a concept EP telling one coherent story from front to end. Which was a lot of fun.

For To Serve The Dune we tried a different route. As with previous songs they all probably had their origins in jamming together. Most of the time come into rehearsals with a riff often even a broader vision but the pieces only really start clicking once we all get together and everyone puts their own special thing on it. And that’s what I really enjoy about the process. Sometimes I do have a very clear vision but theirs 1 or 2 pieces missing and then after a while one of these guys plays something, maybe intentional or by accident, and it all suddenly fits perfectly. And that was really a lot the case with this new record. I remember for example with the song Nomad Queen we really struggled with the verses so I went „aww screw it lets just do it vocal only” and then Joel came up with this eerie vocal line that just worked perfectly. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Well for now we’re totally focused on a great release and the upcoming release show. After that we really wanna go out there and play those new songs for everyone. So yeah we are really excited to hopefully play a lot of shows and spread the Rulaman gospel to all the nice folks. But speaking from experience we’ll keep working on material anyways that’s just in the nature of things I suppose 😉

And for the future I think we really just want to expand our reach visit new places and make new friends playing music and of course getting that infamous second LP out!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?


Probably shut down their devices and go outside haha. No but seriously I’d love for people to check out the new record. Those to are probably somewhat combinable. I think this record really goes well with a nice stroll outside or a few relaxing hours.

Review + Q&A: ZOAHR- Apraxia (2022, self-released)

I met ZOAHR on the road with my band when we played a show together somewhere in the South of Germany. Good dudes, and their music stood out in total solidness, especially the vocals, that strongly reminded me of Graveyard‘s Joakim Nilsson, which is of course a total hero of modern heavy blues rock. ZOAHR’s Jessie Schmidt definitely has a throat to match though.

On Apraxia the band proves they are able to channel their sweaty psychedelic blues rock energy on tape as well. The album breathes smokey underground blues bars and whiskey soaked brawls. It’s music to drink too many beers to and then rip your throat trying to howl along the songs. It’s a varied bunch of songs as well, jumping from heavy uptempo barn burners to booze soaked bluesy power ballads.

Fans of Graveyard will have found a new favorite here, but ZOAHR will also appeal to fans of oldschool grunge bands like Soundgarden, Blind Melon, and Screaming Trees. In the end though, modern rock music is all about the blues, and ZOAHR is a band that has pinned this knowledge on their sleeves. A solid album, by three solid dudes!

Live in Landau (GER) playing in support of No Man’s Valley

I talked to singer/guitarist and songwriter Jessie Schmidt. He carefully explained what is like for an underground rocker to survive in contemporary Germany. It is no fairytale but the true musician bravely soldiers on.

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath been for ZOAHR?

Hi Jasper. First of all thank you for inviting us to do this interview. I’m doing good. A great relief, after the last couple of month with crunch time and deadlines leading towards this release. Since we are an DIY operated band I’m involved in every single step in the making process of our releases but also in the afterwork of promotion and booking. The whole pandemic thing hit us pretty hard. We just had our first album released in late 2019 and about 8-9 shows played so far to support OFF AXIS and then we had to cancel weekenders, festivals and all single shows for the rest of the year. That was pretty flattening for all of us cause we ultimately lost the whole album circle. We played one streaming Show in June 2020 and after that we went straight into pre-production for Apraxia but the lockdowns made it almost impossible to work on the songs for longer periods. Luckily we somehow made it happen to finish all songs just in time to enter the studio in October 2021. We live recorded the whole album in only five days at RAMA Studio Mannheim together with Tobias Schwarz. The mix and master took us a while and I definitely lost some years of my life there with that whole production but now it’s all good.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

Our band is called ZOAHR and we play some kind of guitar driven Blues music with Psychedelic and Stoner Rock touches as a three piece. Mostly melodic, dynamic and playful I would say. I have known Thorsten and Philipp for almost half of my life, they are both avid musicians in our local scene, it just never happend to play in a band together, Although I’ve played some standing shows with Thorsten’s prior band Ampersphere when they were without a bass player some years ago.

As my former band Colaris started to dwindle down into some kind of hiatus, over 2016/2017 I reached out to Philipp and told him that I wanted to start a new project with more blues, psychedelic & stoner rock vibes. I already had a lot of ideas pre-recorded on my laptop so we jammed around on the first couple of tunes and progressed pretty fast. Thorsten came in just a few months later in 2017. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

My uncle and his friends introduced me to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Tangerine Dream, RUSH, Black Sabbath and all those great bands I still adore at an early age like 8-9 years old. I always loved digging though their record collections and got totally excited about all those iconic artworks. From there I was hooked. I still have the same feelings when I dig through some of my friends’ collections nowadays. I went through a lot of Hardrock, Grunge and Metal in my teenage years, then discovered a lot of Postrock before I got occupied by bands like Graveyard. But I’m totally possessed by music in general. I’m pretty much open for everything that takes me to that special place.

Thorsten and I share a pretty similar musical background with a lot of Grunge and 90`s Bands like Kyuss, TOOL, Clutch, Alice in Chains, Monster Magnet, Helmet and Soundgarden for instance. Philipp strays away a little bit. He has a way more heavy background, with a lot of let’s call it „Extreme Metal“ stuff. But also Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson on the other hand. But he is the one who always wears band shirts with names on it that I`ve never heard before. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Nothing fancy here. Thorsten and I both work full time Philipp studies and works jobs on the side. I`ll guess we all more or less do the same things in our daily routine. Cook, sleep, work, do yoga, listen to music, read books and try a little bit more to live healthy, eco friendly and sustainable. And most importantly coping with all the things happening in this world right now. Besides that we usually try to rehearse once a week.

What is the best thing about Apraxia?

That has to be two things:

For me the best thing is the evolution of my vocals. I never really sang before ZOAHR and only started singing because we couldn’t find a singer. On the first record I was always belting high range the whole time. Now that I have accepted my voice in some way I also try to sing lower and calmer to be more versatile. The second best thing is that I illustrated the CD artwork by myself. I mean I do flyers and stuff all the time, but never ever would have dared to work with pressing plant specifications. We only had the front and back cover for the vinyl which now is delayed to somewhere in 2023. Deadlines came so close almost to the point of postponing the release to early 2023. So I cropped and added some stuff to expand it for the CD artwork. Now I’m pretty stoked about how it turned out. But that’s only on my behalf. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We live in three different but nearby cities. Thorsten lives in Zweibrücken where we play a lot live. Philipp is from my hometown Pirmasens but moved to Saarbücken some years ago. He has to drive 45 minutes one way for rehearsals. The music scene was pretty big in Pirmasens at one point but totally died out over the last 10 years. Almost all venues closed their doors and sadly now there is mainly boring cover music happening. Draws more audience and more money. So we decided to play our so-called hometown shows in Zweibrücken 20km away from Pirmasens. There is at least a small music scene for underground DIY music.

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?

That’s a tough one, because I’m always digging in the past. There is still so much music to discover. I don’t have Spotify so can’t tell what’s my most played songs are but I had a lot of good times this year with:

Sacri Monti, Astra, Golden Void, Slow Season, Earthless, The Grand East, Siena Root, Spidergawd, Molior Superum, Thee oh sees, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Michael Kiwanuka, King Buffalo, Elder, Opeth, The Allman Brothers, Coogans Bluff, Khruangbin, The Budos Band. That list could go on forever. 

Can’t name any particular albums though, over the pandemic I became a heavy binge listener where I totally fanned out on one band and listened to their whole catalog back and forth to make sure I’d get into the overlooked albums and deep cuts too. And I got a lot into Soul, Funk and Jazz stuff. Brass instruments together with good grooves on guitar, bass and drums has really grown on me lately.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Mainly I write at home just doodling around. If I get stuck at some cool riffs I record them on my cell phone so they won’t get lost. From there I mostly just write in my head as silly as it sounds. I listen to the ideas on long walks on my headphones and hum vocal ideas over it. In the beginning I used to work a lot with Cubase and pre-produce a lot, but somehow I drifted away from that. When I have 2-3 good flowing parts I’ll show it to the guys at our rehearsal room and we start jamming on it. When it comes to recording we only record live together in one room. We play each song as often as we can to get a good take and run with that. So there will always be mistakes on our records but for me these flaws are charming. 

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Writing your own music and going the whole way for the full experience wherever music drives you. Just never stop doing this. Hopefully we all can stay healthy as long as possible. I can totally see me old and grumpy playing the blues, learning to play the harp and sitting with my guitar in a crusty bar. And for my teaching to pass on something to the future generation of little musicians. I know I’m getting in full Obi-Wan mode here but I’m just in awe of music. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

I’m pretty sure that all the readers of Weirdo Shrine are aware of it but please support smaller bands and artists, always try to buy music straight from the band, try to support your local music scene and go to concerts. Those bands don’t get any penny from Spotify, Youtube and all those other streaming services. Even Bandcamp is starting to get more and more complicated with taxes all over the place. Besides that, just be creative, maybe pick up an instrument, it’s never too late. And if you read this until here: Thank You! 

At their “secret” release party

Interview: “Komet” Lulu Neudeck (Electric Moon, Worst Bassist Records)

A young Lulu (from her Bandcamp page)

Whether you know her as a cult hero on bass guitar for Electric Moon, a super friendly and generous distributor of vinyl through her Worst Bassist Label, or as a witchy cat lady living in a backwater woods area in Germany, you cannot have anything but the sincerest sympathy for Lulu -Komet- Neudeck. Since it is October 12 and International Hug a Bassist Day, I felt it was high time to honor her with a chat and some well deserved attention for her impressive contribution to the international psychedelic scene. Luckily, she felt the same way! So here we go:

Nice to finally do this interview with you! How are you these days?
Hi Jasper. Thanks a lot for taking your time for sending me some questions.
I am a bit puzzled by the circumstances. Having started my label right before the pandemic
kicked in, was a challenge for itself, that whole situation on the world doesn’t make it better. I have no new release in the pressing plant right now yet, so this means around 12 months
without a release… So I will have to check more artwork commissions to have a slight
stream of income. But it is important to see everything in relation again and again and to remind oneself that having something to eat and not facing a gun is luxury…. So all in all, I am fine, thank you, how are you?

First of all: can you introduce yourself, your music, your label, and your cat(s)? –insert
cute cat pictures here–

Yeah, hi, I am Lulu, nice to meet you 🙂 I am founder and bassist of the band Electric Moon, played bass in Zone Six for 11 years, graphic designed for both too and have founded a little independent label named Worst Bassist Records few years ago, of which my tomcat Johnny is the boss. Since some weeks, we have a new trainee-cat in the house, who learns quickly I must say. Since 2002 I do artworks as Lulu Artwork, commission paintings, logos, record covers, concert posters etc… The past 2 years I was diving into this a lot more again.

Johnny the Cat

How has the past pandemic period been for you as a musician? Did you see upsides next
to the downsides?

Yeah, all in all we all know the basic effects of the pandemic on musicians, so I won’t repeat those. But yeah, good question, and yes, there are indeed upsides! At least from my point of view… Times of lockdown forced ourselves to view the insides and I embraced that and took it as a possibility to get to know myself on a much deeper level. We always think we absolutely know ourselves, but spotting some blind spots can be very illuminating….


I enjoyed being a lot on my own, embracing the calmness of this state, create…The financial aspect is a total ruin but somehow it always goes on and on. I also learned to be more relaxed with that and to live more in the moment! Also, relationships changed and some improved, some fell away and that’s fine! Some connections even got deeper due to distance…Sounds weird first, but might make sense…

And how about for you as a graphic artist and label owner?
Well, same as above. For the label, it was and is still a hard challenge. But especially for visual artworks, it was kind of a blessing! It so much fired my creativity and changed my point of view to things. My sight changed. I saw art everywhere. In everything. Everything was kind of inspiring my view, my imagination, my senses, my thoughts…

Can you tell me what made you start the label two years ago?
In 2018, my collaboration with Sulatron Records as graphic designer, business consultant and trend spotter ended, so I needed a new job. I thought about what I can do and I thought, well, I worked with a label the past 10 years, which releases a band I am playing in – why not starting my own label and also release a band I am playing in? 😀 I needed an income and I did not want to go to government and ask for social system money. So I gave it a try and the 1st release started off well.

What does a regular “Lulu day” look like? And what does an awesome “Lulu day” look
like?
Hehe… A regular Lulu day looks like:
I get out of bed quite early in the morning, to have some free time before busting out my work mode… So I get up and cook coffee, feed the cats, sit there, meditate, drink coffee and get awake slowly. This needs time. Later on I check my schedule and start to work on it.
If a fresh release is here, I pack parcels the whole day. Coming to an end of my working day, I do my bookkeeping so that everything is always well prepared for quarterly tax work which I do on my own. In between all that of course, I have 2 hours of break to calm down nerves, muscles and brain, feed the cats again, cook coffee, cook some meal etc…At the end of the day, I take a longer walk to complete work and get rid of the work atmo in
my living space! I love my flexible schedule, so when I am not able to sleep at night, I can work on it either way and take a day off after such a night.


Where we come to a great Lulu day. A great Lulu day can be both, a very, very productive or
a very lazy selfcare day. A great Lulu day starts off with waking up somehow inspired and realizing, not so much physical pain is there right away. Having chronically lyme disease since almost a decade, sometimes fucks my system so hard, so a great day starts off with less pain and therefore more space for good stuff. After realizing my blessing, I cook coffee, take a walk in the morning sun and work a bit but mostly then on artworks, cause I feel so inspired then and happy. Sometimes, a great day also starts after a night I was painting the whole night and feel totally smashed but blissful. The great Lulu day often ends late at night, cause I have such a force of energy and drive on a great Lulu day, that I sometimes overwhelm myself with that, lol.

Where do you live and how does it affect your art and music?
I (yet) live in a very old house in the middle of nowhere in northern Hessonia in Germany. It is
the area where I lived in my early youth also and it’s not far from my dad’s house.
It affects my living as an artist / musician of course, surrounded by nature and the stillness at night… But I have to move out by the end of the year and this is a bit of a struggle right now, as it’s very hard to find something to live in this insane situation at the moment!

Art by Lulu

Tell me about your best memories with Electric Moon so far!
Wow, this is a difficult thing, not cause there are none, but as there are SOOOO many that
as soon as I wanna pick out some, I overtake myself in the brain, haha. Of course, the traveling in general when we have been on tour. It was always a blast, yet very exhausting, but also very inspiring and always a change of perspective, which keeps the mind on the move…


Some particular awesome moments have been on stage, where we all were so connected
and caught by the happening magic, that we all were looking at each other at the same
second, realizing what was happening there and feeling out of breath by that stunning
feeling of getting played by the music not playing it. Weird and intense and magical.
Also, I will never forget our 2 weeks Italy tour back then in 2013, where we traveled down to
south Sardegna, and when we played there in a little ancient town near a old spring with hot
sulfuric water etc…The night after the concert, we went to our sleeping place, which was a super old building, a small school. We arrived and there were some benches with trees around them, so we sat down and heard around hundreds of nightingales singing. When we went up to finally go to sleep, they all flew away which was a mesmerizing, sublime, and stunning moment. Never saw or heard SO many of them on the same spot…..


Or our residency in Tunisia where we stayed around 10 days with several bands, making
music together and hanging together and then, at the end of that, playing a festival where
you could hear a common influence on every band from every band. That was ace! It was in the middle of nowhere about 2 car hours from Tunis away, in an ancient area where an artist had built a cave for his artworks, kind of a showroom. There were so many weird, special and intense trips that I’ll never forget and am grateful for, having experienced them together. They’ll be locked in my heart for my lifetime. And, curious about what to come in the future….

What was your musical background before playing in Electric Moon? What and who made
you pick up that bass?

Mark Sandman of Morphine was the reason why I wanted to play the bass since I was a
teenager. But I learned Saxophone first, also because of them, haha. I have a total different musical background than you might think considering the sound Electric Moon had from the start. Of course, the “ol’ classics” are also in my background, like all that Pink Floyd stuff and so, from my dad. But also, I love electronic music, trip hop, punk, indie and am a huge, huge fan of Jason Molina / Songs Ohia…Also bands like Shellac and God Machine have been a huge influence to me.

Art by Lulu

What are you most looking forward to in the near future? And what would be a dream
goal for the longer term future?

I am most looking forward to finding a super nice place to live with my boss and his trainee, haha, sound like a old cat lady witch, but it might not be the worst (bassist lol). No, really, this is something I visualize every time I think about it and try to manifest it somehow. It is as it is, and what will be will be, is a good state of mind. What does not mean that nothing is a matter of interest to you, it just means to relax the tangling mind a bit more into the present moment…A dream goal for the longer future would be living near the northern sea. I have loved it since I was a kid. And I like the people in the north. Also, a more topic related dream goal would be making music with people like Emma Ruth Rundle

What is something that people should stop doing in your opinion?
Complaining less about others and checking in more on themselves might be a good start
:-D. Also, I think we all should feel more gratitude and should remember, that we’re a family here on this ball of rock, lava and other masses, floating through space, not knowing what would happen. I am not a fan of thinking about other people too much, so in my world, they’re free. But one thing, yeah, we all should stop, is this victim mentality position in which we put ourselves automatically, while complaining about others….

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?
Make love :))))

Review + Q&A: Dead Man’s Eyes- III (2022, Tonzonen Records)

There are few records I have been looking forward to more this year than Cologne’s Dead Man’s Eyes and their third album, simply called III. For one thing they seem to grow with every output, and their previous album 2018’s Word Of Prey already showed an uncanny skill to bend all kinds of (psychedelic) rock out of shape and into something completely new and yet strangely familiar.

III kickstarts the record like a moped on a bumpy country road. It’s an easy going earworm that somehow reminds me of a Coen Brother’s movie, with its jailmen’s choir and jangly harmonica. I’ll Stay Around gives off a completely different vibe, feeling more like taking a walk outside on a warm and breezy day, the jazzy trumpet and beautiful Rhodes passages battling for attention in the background. A couple of spins will reveal a painter’s palette of layers that shows you the skill and song-craftsmanship these guys have developed over the years. It is this use of layers and little quirks that makes this record so extremely playable, a trait it does need with its meagre 30 minutes.

My favorite song has to be In My Fishbowl, a weird little thing, reminding of Blur at their blurriest. The lyrics in particular shine a strange light within singer Simon Mead’s brain; they are strange and yet you feel exactly what he is singing about.

With Time And Space Dead Man’s Eyes then show they don’t even need lyrics or vocals to draw and keep your attention with this smooth instrumental nu-jazzy intermezzo. Then Take Off Soon fuses Balthazar‘s Belgian pop rock with Arctic Monkey‘s British bravoure. On The Wire has the band driving the ol’ country on a moped again, with a joyful swagger that is extremely infectious and will be the shaker of hips on many barn dances in the German countryside. Into The Madness will do well at those dances too, boogying the night away with its flaming harmonica solos and great sped up barnburner finale at the end.

Two songs remain; the catchy uptempo pop rocker Never Grow Up displaying the band’s love of 60s rock like The Kinks or The Beatles, and Nobody At All, which feels like Dead Man’s Eyes version of a stadium rocker, complete with anthemic shouting and pumping rock drumming. It is a proper bang to end this great collection of songs.

Once again this band has grown, and proven themselves to be proper songsmiths. It can only be a matter of time until the world outside their hometown will recognize this prowess as well and throngs of people will be spinning III over and over again complaining about the shortness of this album while probably playing it more than any other record this year…

I tried to contact the band through email but had no luck, so I had to write my questions on a piece of of paper which I put into a bottle and threw upstream in the river Rhine. Well over a month later this is what returned to me on the neck of a skillfully navigating pigeon…all things considered it did not even take the band that much time to respond!

Hi guys, how have you been these days?
We’re feeling pretty excited about how people will react to this record. This time we tried something new: Three different vibes were what we aimed for. We spoke of ‘bundles’. One that feels you’re in a barn, one with songs you can nod your head to in an old smelly car and one that feels a bit dirty and not too overproduced. It was a bit of a challenge to write and eventually choose the right songs to fit those specific terms, or most importantly to overall make it feel like one record.

How has the pandemic been like for DME? Did it bring any upsides
next to the obvious downsides?
what are you going to do as a band if you can’t meet to make music anymore? it was and is a shitty situation but we are lucky that it didn’t hit us as hard as others. we tried to make the best out of it, found a way to still be productive and write new songs. One upside is the artistic freedom this band allows to each member in bringing songs to the table. Usually we end up working on ideas together. Sometimes one guy knows best what the song needs in terms of instrumentation. There are two songs on this record that were recorded almost entirely by one person. We were happy with the outcome and didn’t hear the need to rerecord any instruments over it. Other than that the record has been done with most of us exchanging ideas and shaping the songs.

Can you introduce the band to us? How long have you been a band?
We‘ve been making music since 2010. Nima joined in 2012 when we were still uncertain how to mix Meet me in the Desert. Nima got it done in his bedroom and joined the band exactly then. Phil got in touch with us in January 2018 when we played in Cologne Music Week at the wonderful „Stadtgarten“. That was Geir Johansen’s last show with us which left Phil’s jaw dropped because of Geir’s obvious insane drumming abilities. Phil has been a profound backbone of Dead Man’s Eyes ever since, constantly chasing the best way to improve our drumsound. He is now an amazing Mixing & recording engineer on his own at Fattoria Musica Studio in Osnabrück. Check out his work!

Can you walk me through the writing/recording process? You did a
lot yourselves, right?

That’s right, basically we do the whole production ourselves, except for mastering. The basic idea for a song usually comes from Peter. If we like it, we start working on it. This could mean many things: Sometimes the song is already perfect, sometimes it needs some extra love and care. Sometimes we change the entire arrangement, change the rhythm, change key, don’t end up using an acoustic drum kit and flip on some crazy samples. Sometimes it’s just vocals and handclaps. Nothing stands in the way of making the songs shine. Not even the pandemic.

As I told you before, I freakin’ love the new album III, the only
gripe I have with it is its length! Can you explain why there is not more
of it?

Of course we had more ideas that didn’t make it onto the album. The songs that you can hear on III were the ones that fit the ‘three-ish’ concept of the record. if the album appears too short, listen to it again – you might find some hidden sounds that you didn’t notice right away. The good thing about a record that ends too soon is that it might give you the urge to replay it. The good news is, we do have more songs that can be released in the future. They just did not feel right to be put on this album.

Can you tell me about your best experiences with the band so far?
We had so many. Even after thinking about it for a while, it wouldn’t be fair to pick out one in particular. Having a song on Spotify that has reached half a million streams is pretty unusual. Other than that we have had some crazy days on the road that we would not want to trade for anything.

What are you looking forward to most in 2022? And in 2023?
New songs and the rest we will see. This year we will be releasing a few videos so we are happy to get those out in the open.

Where do your lyrics come from mostly? I really like them, they’re
quite original :))

All lyrics are written by Simon Mead. He’s got that talent to make lyrics almost visible, giving the reader & listener a lot of room to imagine what’s going on on top of what the instruments are doing.

Who did the artwork? And what is the story behind it?
The artists name is Azura Daze. Definitely check out her work!

You have just released a really cool video, tell me more about it!
The video to our latest single „Take Off Soon“ was done in collaboration with Azura Daze, Paula Paez & Lenia Friedrich. They put an incredible amount of work into this. Finally we have an animated video of our own, which represents our song in the light in which we wrote it. We could not be happier!

Azura Daze had this to add: „Even though many things collided as we were finishing the video and it was not an easy time for us, we found the necessary energy and passion to deliver on time. But for while we started believing the project was a cursed artifact, passed on to us the by some angry god (…)“

Who are your biggest musical influences these days? What music
would you play in the band bus?

Viagra Boys, Gorillaz, Atahualpa Yupanqui, ODB & Warren Ellis.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this
interview?

Listen to Dead Man’s Eyes – III on repeat, put your favourite song in your playlist & go buy some records. Also wash your hands.

DME, 2022

V.A.- International Space Station Vol. 1 (2022, Worst Bassist Records)

art by Lulu Neudeck

Space; is has always attracted and fascinated heavy psychedelic musicians. Ever since Hawkwind coined the term space rock, you could easily visualize why this type of music would associate with the deep dark outer limits. It represent weightlessness, endless travel, and a sense of being infinitely small in the gigantic body of the galaxy. And yet space poses a strange paradox to heavy psychedelic rock as well. For in space there can be only silence, and that is what these bands are anything but.

Take Nashville, USA’s trio ElonMusk for example. They are the opener on this Worst Bassist Records International Space Station compilation. With their instrumental psych rock jam Gods Of The Swamp Planet they paint pictures of serenely floating in space, regarding the Earth from great heights, and feeling completely and blissfully insignificant. The twenty-something minute track is a great opener of this album as it takes its good time slowly unfolding into a full blast before dying out again like a falling star…

ElonMusk

Germany’s renowned space rock power house Electric Moon is next, with a recording that still features the since departed Sula Bassana on guitar. They don’t spend any time lingering around the bush on Duality, but in stead kick off full fuzz force and deeply heavy. You can almost see the planets grinding into another while the bass relentlessly circles and the guitars flicker and howl. Tribal drums appear from the deep, and push the cacophony to even greater heights, ever pushing and pushing until a great crescendo and big comedown halfway. What is next is a piece of sheer beauty, as if all the previously unleashed violence has lead to some sort of thoughtful realization. It is pure peace, a revelation of the beauty of outer and inner space.

Electric Moon

And then it’s time for Swedish instrumental magicians Kungens Män, who offer the brooding Keeper Of The One Key. In its whopping 23 minutes the track shows all the beauty that can be found in the power of repetition. Carefully and meticulously like craftsmen bricklayers Kungens Män adds variation upon variation while they build their gigantic space ship on which they sail us through the sonic boom and far beyond. It feels just great to be in the presence of these master jammers for such a great stretch and be taken on their journey as they completely let go of time and space and just are in the moment for as long as a vinyl record side can last. Wonderful stuff.

Kungens Män

Finally there is the grand finale from Norway’s Kanaan. Their contribution is aptly named Beyond, and it takes its time to fully display what this powerful instrumental trio has on offer. The digital version was even extended to a mind blowing twenty-seven minutes (!), but of course a vinyl side can only hold so much music so the physical track is a bit shorter. All of this seems to say that Kanaan thinks you cannot really capture outer space within normal Earth time at all. First you have to free yourself from linear time, and only then you can understand what exploring the firmament on your instruments should really be about. Kanaan are builders. They are builders of beautiful atmosphere and spacious repetition. Only after very careful contemplation and very slow building do they unleash more and more of their might upon the listener, adding momentum with every repetitive swing. Finally when they have found their time, they add jazzy rhythmics and crazy distorted fuzz wails to shoot their rocket far up into space leaving us completely exhausted but still wanting more.

Kanaan

In its almost 90 minutes Elonmusk, Electric Moon, Kungens Män, and Kanaan have been given plenty of room to display their take on space travel. Together they have forged a memorable first volume of this International Space Station, of which I hope there will be plenty more to come. After all, space continues to inspire instrumental jam bands from all over this planet, and it will continue to do so until the end of time and beyond…

Review + Q&A: Sula Bassana- Nostalgia (2022, Sulatron Records)

Nostalgia, the yearning for a bygone era. An era perhaps without all the incentives and stimuli of these modern times. A world without mobile phones, social media, or even the internet. A world in fact, that not so very long ago was a reality. In the 90s we had to find new music through magazines, word of mouth, real live contact, live shows, or by listening to mix tapes that we made for each other. It was the time of great excitement when crate digging and finding stuff you never heard before, and a time of full venues and bristling underground festivals…

A time you understand a guy like Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt yearns for. He lives by himself now, in a forest-y area of Germany and composes music for himself, for his bands Zone Six and sometimes other projects. But the times of the 90s, that time of true underground excitement, even before he lifted of the ground with Electric Moon and shone, that time will never come back. It seeps through the music on this album, from the grand cinematic post doom opening tones of Real Life, to the indie rock anthem We Will Make It, reminiscent of unsung 90s post hardcore heroes Slint, Sonic Youth, and Lungfish. It’s music that is quiet in all its heavy fuzziness. It has a warm glowing energy about it, but it is burning for the past, and through this fire it bears a heartbreaking melancholy too. For these times will never come back, and “the world has gotten itself in a goddamn hurry” to paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time, Shawshank Redemption…

Sula Bassana will not follow in this rush of modern times. He will go his own tempo or no tempo at all. His stubborn creativity shines through his love of the music he makes, the effort he puts in it, his desperate attempts to preserve some of that glow that he felt in the early 90s and that slowly lost a lot of its magic but that also somehow still perseveres. That is Nostalgia; it harks back to the good old days, but it also stands strongly in the present. It is an album that could not have been made then, it is also very much now. Through all its reminiscing and melancholy that is in fact an uplifting message, and I am sure the deep diving listeners will agree that after relishing in it for all of its mesmerizing 42 minutes, you will invigorated and are ready for more.

Zone Six

I had to speak to Dave Schmidt again. The pandemic “ended” since last time we spoke, he left his longstanding band Electric Moon, and the world had gotten a lot more challenging for small underground labels like his bread and butter Sulatron Records. And now this brilliant new album, here is what he said about that…

How have you been since we last spoke in December of last year?
With the start of the war against Ukraine the sales went even lower, but the production prices rose a lot, so life for a small but professional indie label like mine became pretty hard. But we started recordings for a new album with Zone Six. It was short time after the war started, so it became dark and heavy. We try to go on working on it soon, but bureaucracy rose too so I have a lot of shitty office stuff to do and less time to be creative. My new album arrived and promotion started and soon I will ship all pre-ordered copies out etc. You see there is always work. 🙂 Also I went to concerts and festivals as a visitor, spend much time with friends and enjoy life. And I found 3 very cool other musicians to form my Sula Bassana Band and we start rehearsing soon and want to rock the nice stages in Europe from next year on. 🙂 This gives me a lot of good feel and power.

You mentioned back then you were burnt out, are you feeling better, and/or how are you dealing with that?
I’m still off power very fast and need a lot of rest. Now I also recover from Corona which makes me even less powerful. But I hope I will find back my energy soon.

In the meanwhile you quit Electric Moon, would you like to elaborate on that decision? Do you feel it is over for good or is there room for a reunion at some point?
I went off the band for private/personal reasons. Maybe we will be ready for a concert together in a bunch of years or so. No idea, and I focus on new things, especially my own band.

When one door closes, others open, right? I heard about your new project with Ax Genrich? What can you tell us about that?
Exactly! I guess I haven’t seen Ax Genrich since our last gig with Psychedelic Monsterjam (or Neumeier, Genrich, Schmidt) in 2006 (at Burg Herzberg Festival) but met him on the Take Me To The Moon Festival a few months ago and we decided to make music again. At the same festival I met Steff Bollack again after many years and met Conni Maly. So we had the idea to do something together which led to the new project called Die Raumpatrouille, and to our first concert in November. This will be completely improvised krautrock and I’m really looking forward to this gig and hope we will go on then. Last weekend I joined Ax Genrich and his band for a little jam at their show in Kassel, at the Free Flow Festival, and it was soooo good to spend time with Ax! And the jam was great too.

Let’s go on to Nostalgia, your new album. What can you tell me of the recording sessions?
I started recording new songs in 2013 when my freshly bought Mellotron arrived, sadly only the new digital one, sampled from the original mastertapes from the sixties. Anyway, I love these sounds so much and recorded a track instantly (Mellotraum). Later I recorded more tracks here and there which not fitted to other albums, so I collected them and decided they fit perfectly for a album. But man, 2 of them were real songs, where I need vocals. And writing lyrics is definitely not my superpower, hahahhaha. So they stayed unfinished for years. And in late 2021 I forced myself to finish them, what I did. The title track based on a guitar-theme I had in mind since the early 2000’s, but it changed to a Mellotron dominated track. In 2015 I played around with my Korg Polysix (a early 80’s synthesizer) a few days before the first Electric Moon concert at the Planetarium Bochum, where I used this synth. I found a nice arpeggio thing and recorded it without knowing what to do with it. Some days later, at the mentioned concert, the synth died due to the leaking memory-battery (you can hear that in the first song of the concert: https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/track/the-last-words-of-mister-p). Later I added drums, bass, guitars and more sounds around the arpeggio and the result became one of my favourite songs of the last years. 🙂

Who was involved apart from you and what did they contribute?
Musically I did everything alone. But for mastering Eroc did his great work again and for the cover I used a fantastic painting by french painter Hervé Scott Flament. I also used some pix a friend did (Kilian CabGuy) and the title font painted by Ryan Koster.

A song like We Will Make It has a strong 90s feel, it kind of made me think of Slint, one of my favorite records from that time! Do you know them and do you feel the same?
To be honest I don’t know Slint. Will search and listen to it. After recording the basic guitars it reminded me a bit of Sonic Youth, what I heard a lot that time (around 2016 or so, when I did the recordings). Back in the 90s I was much more into electronic music first and then into late sixties and early seventies psych, kraut and space rock. Haven’t heard much of the 90s music.

I’d say the general mood of the album is quite melancholic, was that intentional? Can you recall what brought that up at the time?
I’m a very melancholic person. I guess you can hear it in a lot of my music. And the words in these 2 songs with vocals are impressed by the feel of these times…

Will you play any of it live? And when in which band will we be able to see you live soon?
There are too many things going on on that album, that I don’t think a four piece can nicely perform these tracks. But we will rehearse some older Sula “classics” and some more new songs. Also I want to play much more with my old bands Zone Six and Interkosmos. And of course with Die Raumpatrouille.

Would you like to pitch any upcoming Sulatron Records releases? What should we be looking out for?
There will be the new Farflung album Like Drones In Honey out in October (hopefully) on CD and LP. And I just received the testpressings for the debut LP Echo Colonnade by Ukranian krautrockers Reflector and listen to them right now. Sounds
great on vinyl! :-). In the same package I got the testpressings of the split LP of Speck (The Metz Sessions) and Interkosmos! Both LPs will be out in early 2023. And Tetrao Urogallus from Hamburg work on their new LP right now which will be released next year too.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?
Hug someone, spread love and listen to great music. 🙂

Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt

Upcoming Gigs:
With ZONE SIX:
02.09.22 GER-Bielefeld, Potemkin Bar
With DIE RAUMPATROUILLE:
10.11.22 GER-Heidelberg, Commissary PHV (South-Gettysburg Avenue 45)

Find Sula Bassana and his projects here:
http://www.sulatron.com
http://www.facebook.com/Sulatron.Records
https://www.facebook.com/groups/573333580261594
http://www.soundcloud.com/sulatron
https://www.instagram.com/sulatron_records
http://www.sulabassana.de
http://www.sulabassana.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/sulabassana
https://www.instagram.com/sula_bassana_music
http://www.zonesix.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/zone_six_official
https://www.facebook.com/zonesixz6
http://www.zonesix.de
http://www.interkosmos-official.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/interkosmos_official
https://www.facebook.com/interkosmosofficial

Review + Q&A: Pretty Lightning- Dust Moves (2022, Fuzz Club Records)

Knowing when to say the right thing is an important quality, but so is knowing when to be silent. German psychedelic duo Pretty Lightning have always sung the right words at the right times, but for their fifth album Dust Moves they felt it was better to let the music do the talking. And lo and behold; it loudly speaks to our collective imagination, perhaps even more strongly than a record with lyrics ever could.

Whether its the slide guitar Western ride of Glide Gently, or the Tommy Guerrero-like desert caravan trip Gewgaw For Beginners; every song on Dust Moves tells a different story that you can experience with your eyes closed, filling in the images that take place where usually words may have been.

Pretty Lighting‘s approach is a gentle, subtle, layer building work, where they seduce you into their song’s small little environment in such a vivid way that it feels like you can live there for a while. Most of the sounds are linked to rhythm and blues and old time western folk, but Pretty Lightning manage to meld them together in such a way that they become their own little entities.

Being a vocalist myself I find myself often sceptic of instrumental music, but I feel that this distrust is not justified here. Pretty Lightning has pulled the vocals out of their music, but they put the listener in the front seat in stead. In the setting Dust Moves offers it therefore feels all the richer, and never like something is “missing”. It’s the real great instrumental works that can do that.

Pretty Lightning

Once again I found myself in the privileged position to be in contact with the band. (Former) singer and guitarist Sebastian Haas was willing to introduce the band and answer my questions…

Hi guys, super stoked to talk to you! How have you been the past pandemic period?

S: Hi, in general and according to circumstances, mostly ok. Like the “it could be much worse” sort of ok. None of our friends and families was or is seriously ill due to covid.  

Music wise it was obviously worse, it actually still is, but that applies to every band and artist, I guess… Personal conditions unfortunately force PL to take social distancing even more seriously and we have to hold back a bit longer. But it’s getting better, slowly, I hope. I mean, of course it sucks, and even if it could be much worse, I’m sure everyone has been tired of it for a long time.

Can you introduce yourselves and your band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

S: Dear Weirdo Shrine reader, my name is Sebastian and I like animals. I also play guitar and (used to) sing in Pretty Lightning. That’s a band started out as a garagerock duo over a decade ago, has drifted more into psych territory and recently recorded an album with some instruments they had never been using before. 

So, Dust Moves! A first instrumental album! You felt like music speaks louder than words? What motivated you to leave out vocals altogether this time?

S: No, it doesn’t speak at all, and that’s what it’s all about. Not that I do not like voices, I do, but vocals or lyrics can also have what it takes to ruin a song, depending on the personal mood or likings, of course. It happens from time to time, when you’re really enjoying the music and as soon as one brings in a story by singing or talking it’s somehow killing the vibe. It just doesn’t fit to the mood that you otherwise find in the sounds. Sure, this is totally personal, maybe rare and vocals and lyrics can be great, so it’s not a question of loud or quiet, better or worse, it’s just different and that’s what we wanted to try out this time. To me, the fun in instrumental music is caused by the flow it can initiate, a movement but without a fixed direction. Metaphorically speaking, it can provide a blank canvas and maybe some paint tins, the rest is up to your own imagination. Describing instrumental music as boundless may sound cheesy, but due to the lack of words or stories, it feels less specific at least and this leaves room for your own ride. Maybe like sounds for dreamers (cheesy, again!). I´m sure that there are others who can find similar journeys in lyrics etc., this is just our own humble approach trying to talk about what we didn’t want to say with lyrics. Another motivation was that I find it easier to enjoy listening to our music without hearing my own voice. 

What change did you notice about yourselves going from the previous album Jangle Bowls to Dust Moves? It’s quite a step! Can you identify the trigger that started this change?

S: It actually didn’t feel like taking a big single step at once, more like some sort of process. We’ve already had instrumental songs on our previous records, very few indeed, but we’ve been playing around with the idea of an instrumental record for a while. After 4 records we felt like it was time to give it a shot and we had already collected plenty of ideas and material over time. However, most of them didn’t make it on the album as we wrote new stuff that formed the final album as a whole. I think this record turned out more consistent and that’s one thing we do like about it. That also was the initial intention and going instrumental just made sense to us.

Personally it had me thinking of Tommy Guerrero’s music at times, which I adore! Who are your favorite instrumental artists, and why?

S: I only know Tommy Guerrero from hearsay and have never listened to his music, but there are lots of instrumental artists we like for sure, I list the first names that pop up in my mind now:

On the guitar-heavy side:

75 Dollar Bill, because the rhythms are crazy.

Marisa Anderson, because being an amazing guitarist without being annoying is a rare gift.

Earth, because it feels restrained and wide open at the same time.

Bobby Lee, because it choogles.

On the electronics:

Emerald Web, because synths and flutes fit together well.

Orphan Fairytale, because it sounds so charming.

Phantom Horse, because I know one of them personally.

Syrinx, because I don’t know anything similar.

Other:

Zomes, because a little goes a long way.

Steven R. Smith, because I don’t know where to start.

France, check it out, you’ll understand.

What is the biggest difference in approach about writing a song without vocals? 

S: You don’t need to worry about lyrics. That can be a relief, especially in times you don’t have much to tell. Still, you’re putting out something, musically, but it doesn’t matter what you were thinking or what you mean, if you mean anything at all, it’s up to the listener. Now I already have the picture of the blank canvas in my mind that I mentioned before. Besides that, I think it’s more about exploring and expanding sounds, less like writing songs.

You are from Saarbrücken, that always strikes me as quite a remote place, what are the advantages and disadvantages of living there? And do you think it influenced you as musicians?

S: Yes, Saarbrücken isn´t London or Berlin, that´s true and not each of the bands you´d like to see stops by, but still there´s something going on (in case there´s no pandemic going around…) There are bands and people who do shows and art and stuff of course and it´s also well located, very close to France and Luxemburg. But even if I´m sure that your surroundings have an impact on what you do or how you do it, I can´t name anything specific in relation to our city. Friends definitely inspire us, and sometimes they don´t have to live nearby necessarily to make an influence. But still, it´s good to have likeminded people around who gather when anything cool is happening.

Pretty Lightning has always been a duo, right? Have you never felt like taking along other musicians? There are for instance more instruments on the album than could be performed live simultaneously, aren’t there? Will PL always be just the two of you?

S: Yes we’ve always been a duo and it always felt right, this was never in doubt. But your question about the number of instruments is well justified and it’s also something we had to discuss recently, so we’re prepared. To sum up: even on the previous records there were songs that only emerged during the recording sessions, when it’s easy to evade the limitations of being only two people. Some of these songs can’t be played live in our duo lineup, not in a satisfying manner at least, so we dropped them from our live set, means we’re used to recording songs that we can not play live. But these were only a few songs per album, so it didn’t really matter. Now, with this new record, it’s different. None of these tracks could be performed as a duo, not in a way that would make sense to us. But even with an adequate amount of musicians we could hardly imagine playing this album live. Dust Moves is rather seen as a recording project. What we could imagine is including some parts or fragments of this record in our live set, to add a bit of that vibe. But that’s something we’re still working on and I don’t know where it leads…

In this connection I have to think of a show I’ve attended a few years ago. I don’t want to name the artist here, but the debut record was absolutely stunning, still is, not only because of the songs itself, but especially because of the sounds and the production. It doesn’t sound “expensive” or “big”, but creative, weird and sometimes mind blowing and that was such a crucial part of the whole album. So I was really wondering how they’re going to perform this live. Unfortunately, they didn’t do it very well, not because they were bad musicians, but because these songs really shine in this extraordinary production of the recording and I’d bet it was part of the overall writing process from start to finish, but impossible to translate to a live set. I don’t want to claim that Dust Moves has such a crazy production, but it reminds me of that experience and confirms that some records are not meant to be performed live. But who knows, maybe we change our minds some day. Never say never.

Apart from that, we are also in Datashock, which is a rather loose collective of friends playing improvised, experimental krautpsychfolkwhatever, sometimes with up to 8 or 9 people, so it’s not always just the two of us.

What are your immediate future plans? And how about for the longer future? Any dreams you’d like to share?

S:We’re looking forward to the release of Dust Moves and hope some people will enjoy it half as much as we did while recording it. And as much as i’d like to answer your question, the past two years didn’t help developing confidence in future plans. Dreams, ya, sweet dreams…

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?

S: Somersault.

Thanks a lot for your time!

Thanks for the talk, the pleasure was ours.

Pretty Lightning