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Review + Q&A More Klementines (2022, Twin Lakes Records)

To me these days, there are few things as satisfactory as a bunch of free form musical artists finding each other and jamming like there is no tomorrow. To me they are like mind readers almost, or cosmic weavers of sonic threads. The band Can were based on this principle, and they spend many months perfecting their jams, often culminating into what they called “Godzillas”; slowly built up eruptions of sonic energy.

More Klementines definitely bear fruit from that can, and they definitely share four of their most successful Godzillas on their new album Who Remembers Light. There is in fact little about it that I do not like. Whether they wax instrumentally like on opener Hot Peace, or add lyrical poetry like on the much shorter Key Of Caesar, they do it in a way that is ephemeral in nature, here one moment, gone the next. Like ideas, and thoughts, More Klementines’ improvisational music comes and goes, back and forth, sometimes steady rockin’, sometimes more fragile, but ever flowing.

Who Remembers Light is a photograph of this ephemeral power of More Klementines, a recorded moment in time where they rocked, and flowed freely amongst newly discovered sounds. Freshly picked klementines for your listening pleasure…

So I discovered about More Klementines rather late, more than a month after the release of Who Remembers Light. The more I found out about them the more I liked them though, because aside from cool musicians im multiple bands they are also proud record label owners…let’s quickly dive deeper into that with the trio that makes up More Klementines!

Hi guys, can you please introduce yourselves to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

Kiefer: Hey Jasper, thanks so much for taking an interest in More Klementines. Michael Kiefer here, and I play drums in the band. 

J: This is Jon – I’m the only person in the band not named Mike or Steubs. I play guitar, banjo and lap steel.

Steubs: Esteemed congregants of the Weirdo Shrine, I greet you heartily! I am Steubs, and I play strings, keys, delay, and bells. 

How have you been the past pandemic years? How did you see it affect your musical careers?

J: The pandemic required stepping back and putting things on hold for a bit – in a way it was nice to pull out of the game for a bit and spend time listening and going for walks in the woods. Fortunately, we were able to share ideas and work through new material. One highlight of the pandemic was recording our “sk8 @ yr own rsk” record where we regrouped for an afternoon outside and got to play in my backyard in the fresh air.

Steubs: All that time to play with no real agenda but to try to entertain myself, led to some new ways to hold the instruments, and make happy noise with less of a focus on plucked notes or stacked harmonies. Something about that time led me to seek out lighter ways to make the instrument move the air. Something about melody, harmony or even traditional dissonance seemed to bring the dark quarantine times into unwanted high relief, and finding ways to make the instrument hum, hiss, wobble, and take up new sonic spaces made it seem like I was moving through the time better. 

Kiefer: It definitely afforded me some more time to get back to practicing the rudiments of drumming, while also exploring ways to create new textures around the kit. 

Can you tell me about your band(s)? I have just been listening to the last More Klementines a lot! It’s awesome! But there is more, right?

Kiefer: Thanks so much! Yeah, I also play in a psych duo called Spiral Wave Nomads with Albany, NY’s Eric Hardiman. We’re just about to put out our 3rd LP, Magnetic Sky in November–another co-release with Feeding Tube Records. And Jon and I also play in another outfit called Drifting North. It’s kind of a fresh take on the Cosmic Americana that’s been bubbling up from the American underground the past several years…psychedelic folk tunes and garage rockers that can morph into motorik train beat jammers or freeform meditative folk ragas.

J: Yes. As Mike mentioned, he and I play in another project called Drifting North that includes some heavy hitters from New Haven – we’re moving into recording mode with a batch of songs and jams and hope to put out songs in the coming year and a full record to follow.

Steubs: My recent side project joy has been to play drums with my kid’s band, and to work on some solo sound compositions and try to teach myself about synths.

What can you tell me about the Twin Lakes record label? 

Kiefer: Well, Steubs and I started the label back in 2007, I think when we were still working as a duo called Myty Konkeror

Steubs: Ah yes, I remember it well! We had a lot of friends at the time with tape labels, or self-recorded labels, and it seemed more logical to pursue the music and the distribution on our own terms. The surprising bit, was that as soon as we released anything by ourselves, we were overwhelmed by amazing musicians seeking help to release their music. We’ve always sought to do limited runs, records if possible, and with the band bringing a unique or handmade art design to the table. It feels like, and felt like, even way back then, that to put a physical object into the world, it had to have some love baked in as well as some aesthetic merit. 

Where are you guys from, and how does it affect your music?

Kiefer: Jon and I live just outside of New Haven, CT in Branford/N.Branford, while Steubs lives in Brooklyn. I’m not sure how it affects our music. There’s certainly a lot of great music around the New Haven area, like our friends in the Mountain Movers, Headroom, the C/Site label run by Stefan Christensen, Henry Birdsey, Mercy Choir, Lys Guillorn and many others. Plus other CT artists like Michael Slyne and Fatal Film in New London. Seeing them all continue to keep working and push their creativity in new ways pushes us to keep going and exploring new sounds.

J: Living in the woods of Connecticut near the shore gives the opportunity to listen to the trees, lapping of the water, and drive winding roads while listening back to recordings and mixes. Something about these surroundings permeates the music – it’s kind of a state of mind-  the ebb and flow of the tides that pulls on things and has profound influence in subtle ways.

Steubs: The music scene in and around New Haven, CT is very special, and one of the most underrated deep beds of weirdo-music talent in the U.S. People are caring and real and involved the rest of the community at large. I’m so lucky to know Mike and Jon and to be able to get up there to bang around with these guys, skate with these guys, ride down mountains with these guys and surf with these guys.

I am a NYC native, from the boroughs, and I’ve always had an affinity for the music NYC has produced that has aligned itself with sounding out the uncomfortable and harder parts of NY life in a DIY-way:  New York Hardcore (CroMags, LifesBlood), Crust and Squatter Punk (Nausea, Missing Foundation – Germans who were nevertheless in Tompkins Square Park), No-Wave (8-eyed-spy —- first time I got to read a Byron Coley cassette insert!), that whole scene that Sonic Youth eventually presided over, metal and crossover (Leeway rocks!), etc, etc… there are so many kinds of heavy music bands and players and composers who have been from here, and it’s so humbling  …. so much jazz, noise, beats…John Zorn!, Velvet Underground, SWANS, RUN DMC, KRS-One, Eric B and Rakim, Wu-Tang… it’s made me want to open up to hear so many things, and feel like I always have beginner’s mind when I try to write and perform. 

There is a strong kraut vibe in your music, where did that come from? And who are your kraut rock heroes? 

Kiefer: CAN tops the list for me. Amon Duul II and Neu! are right up there as well. I’ve always loved the repetition and motorik beats that you’d often hear in those bands. I really liked how propulsive and groovy the rhythms could be while also leaving so much room for the songs to open up with interesting, weird textures and sounds. That coupled with the free approach you hear in a lot of that music…to me it represents the joy of discovery in new sounds that I love experiencing with my friends and collaborators.

J: What Kiefer said is exactly what I’d say on this subject.

Steubs: All of that for sure ++ I also spent a lot of time with 90s kraut-rock influenced bands like Th’ Faith Healers uk (still a rhythm/lead guitar north star for me— the opening riff on Imaginary Friend is just so definitive. Not to mention, I took that whole mark chime thing into song into our own last album.) Thank you, Th’ Faith Healers uk. Incidentally, this has been and remains an album I put on during larger gatherings, and people always start clamoring: “What is this record?!? It’s so great!”

I think we try to be respectful about celebrating our love of these bands that take heavy repetition and building freakouts, but we are trying to move to an entirely new place. I think that one of the things we’ve started to explore more and more,  is how you can create the effect of repetition without actually doing it, but instead taking the listener into new places while they think they are hearing repetition. This is almost the opposite of a lot of older psych and krautrock, which would use the repetition to make the same sound unfamiliar. I think we are using heavy music, and playing with dynamics, to make the listener follow us to places that are different and radical, but leaving aspects in place that cushion the giant steps so suddenly what sounded like repetition is doing something totally different.

Who are your favorite contemporary musicians?

Kiefer: Oh man, there are just so many, so I guess I’ll focus on the ones I’ve been listening to most the last couple years. We recently played a gig with Michael Beach at Tubby’s in Kingston, NY, and he just released an EP that confirmed he’s one of the best singer-songrockers out there. The new Elkhorn LP is amazing, and the new Bill Callahan album has been on repeat for me since it came out. I also keep going back to the Myriam Gendron record that came out earlier this year. Oh, and Steubs turned me on to a Curtis Harding record that came out last year that I also revisit a lot. Pretty much anyone on Three Lobed Records…that new Eli Winter record is so good, and I’m always excited when a new Gunn-Truscinski Duo record comes out. Our New Haven buds The Mountain Movers continue to inspire us with each release. Another New Haven artist that blew us away recently is Henry Birdsey’s Old Saw project, specifically his 2021 album Country Tropics

J: I’ve really enjoyed all the music that Rose City Band has been putting out the past few years – very inspirational stuff right there. I’m a huge Steve Gunn fan as well. I’m continually discovering musicians that are long gone such as Amanaz that just blow me away – I seem to have them on continuous play even though I discovered their record from 1975 a few years back. I’m still discovering decades old records by King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry that pull me in more than anything.

Steubs: Wille Nelson. Bill Frisell. Mitsky. Jim White. Pete Kerlin.

What is the coolest thing you have done so far? And what is still on the bucket list?

Kiefer: Hmm…I’m not sure there’s one coolest thing. We’re just super grateful to have joined bills with some of our favorite artists. We’ve had such a blast sharing bills with bands like Oneida, Howlin Rain and our buds Garcia Peoples. Playing some shows in Europe is definitely on the bucket list.

J: Probably the coolest thing may have to be our first improv gig at Cafe 9 in New Haven – I can’t remember all the details (year, who else was on the bill, etc) but I recall that Steubs played a gamelan and the three of us managed to levitate a few feet off the ground during our 30 minute set. It was one of the most profound musical experiences I’ve had… 

Kiefer: Oh yeah, that gig was amazing. And the fact that we improvised that night was borne more out of necessity than anything else. I remember a couple days before the show Steubs let us know he couldn’t make it, so Jon and I practiced the day before as a two-piece with some rough ideas. But then the day of the show Steubs let us know that he could make it and would just jump in and improvise. I think Jon and I started out the set with whatever approach we had prepared for, but then the set just sort of took on a weird, beautiful life of its own. That show definitely gave us the confidence to keep improvising, and I’m not sure if we’ve written any structured songs since, with the exception of “Key of Caesar.”

Steubs: Getting older and having these two buddies to bang around with is the coolest thing. It’s like that lyric from ‘boogie chillen’: “Let that boy boogie-woogie/cause it’s in him, and it got to come out.” That’s music for me- I don’t have a choice. It’s weird stuff, not universally appealing, and if I could have chosen, I’d probably have chosen to play more popular and profitable sounds. But these dudes and I find some peace and release in playing this noise out of ourselves together—wherever it might originate from. Having a handful of people that seem interested in listening to the noise we make is just gravy. 

Kiefer: Yeah…that’s definitely the coolest thing for sure. 

What are your immediate future plans? 

Kiefer: We do have one gig on the horizon that we’re excited about. We’ll be playing the I Heart Noise Festival on December 10 in Williamsburg at Pete’s Candy Store with some other artists we love, like Wet Tuna, Jim White & Marisa Anderson, Solilians, Skyjelly, and I Feel Tractor. We can’t wait!

Aside from that, we just wanna continue getting together when time allows and jam. We’re all great friends and we feel really lucky that our bonds go beyond the personal connections we have. We have this deep musical connection that allows us to converse in our own language not studied, but fluently spoken and all our own. So we’re looking forward to more of that! 

J: I’m about to eat some fresh from the oven apple crisp made from hand-picked macouns. One of the best things about autumn in New England. Don’t forget the scoop of vanilla ice-cream to cool it off!

Steubs: I’ve gotta catch up on a few late parking tickets, and we’re almost out of dog food at home, so I’ll probably head out to the store in a few minutes.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after this interview?

    Eat More Klementines!

Review + Q&A: Thought Bubble- Nowhere (2022, Echodelick Records)

Although UK duo Thought Bubble opted for a cartoonish moniker, their musical output is nothing to laugh at. Rather than a soundtrack for comic book communication methods, the music on Nowhere will transport you to into your own thought bubble; the confines of your own head. Being very electronic through synths, loops, and beats, the music at times feels “bubbly” as well, in a sense that you are experiencing your own thought bubble while being wrapped in bubble wrap wobbling away through the colorful artwork on display.

There are shards of spoken word and lyrics popping up through Nowhere, presenting the eerie modern day feeling of being rushed, as well as some claustrophobic reflections on the covid period, which was not a walk in the park for these guys as you will read in the interview below. While the moods and atmospheres on Nowhere are very varied, the listener cannot escape this sense of isolated gloom that stretches over the music, an obvious result of the state of mind of the makers.

Not to say that Thought Bubble have created an allover gloomy affair. There’s even some room for a dance (Cloudbursting), and on the Can-inspired more repetitive parts you have to be dead if you do not at least wiggle your right toe to it. It is electronic music for people who do not like electronic music. And some very good music at that.

I talked to Thought Bubble‘s duo Nick Raybould (percussion) and Chris Cordwell (keys) about the making of Nowhere, there pretty dense covid experience, and of course their love of music…

Hi guys! How are you these days?

Chris: Well thanks, recovering from a bout of covid but good.

Nick: Considering the bizarre times we are now living through, surprisingly well. As Chris says, we’ve both just recovered from bouts of Covid, but are feeling proud of our new album and are already back making new music.

The writing and recording process of “Nowhere” was all during covid, right? And I heard they were some stressful times for you as well! Can you tell me what happened and whether you think it can be heard in the music?

Chris: Yeah, Nowhere was made during covid lockdowns, but also Nick was diagnosed with a heart condition and needed urgent surgery which, unfortunately, due to the stresses on the NHS turned out to be a lengthy process. So Nowhere turned into a welcome diversion for Nick. 

Nick: That period will probably be remembered by most of us all as the lockdown years, or something like that. For me personally, of course, it was also a pretty bleak and terrifying time. Having spent much of 2020 strangely exhausted, with sharp back pains, in February 2021 I was eventually diagnosed as suffering from chronic heart disease, which would require urgent multiple bypass surgery. I’m guessing I’d have been especially vulnerable to Covid with my heart issues and that catching it could have delayed my operation, should a surgery slot have actually come available. So that was that – my wife and I became hermits.

Everyone around me set about helping to distract me from dwelling on it too much, as I waited, in various ways. Not least my Thought Bubble partner Chris. He’d hit a particularly prolific and creative seam, so started sending me lots of new Thought Bubble tracks to work on. One of which assumed the apt name ‘Distraction Engine’. 

Despite being a generally quite bouyant person, there was still a darker corner in my mental makeup telling me there was a chance things could go very wrong indeed. Either on the operating table – or even before I managed to get there. Another new track we’d started creating started of as a snappy drum work out, which I sent over to Chris. What he sent back was another pretty much finished sounding track. It was now a lovely trippy funk groover. His original parts included a sampled voice, from some royalty-free archive, as a percussive effect. While I felt it sat right, I considered that voice a bit anonymous and something of a missed opportunity to say something for ourselves. So I quickly wrote a short poem. And, while I usually hate the sound of my own voice, set up a mic and recorded myself reading it. I was facing this big heart operation and had already reconciled that these recordings might be our ‘Black Star’. So yeah, for once I actually used my own voice. Yeah, proper heavy shit was going on in my head by this stage. 

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds? How did you find each other to form Thought Bubble?

Nick: Chris and I met when we formed a ‘dads’ band through mutual friends. Nobody could play particularly well. It was really more of a boozy social thing really, but over a few years and line-up changes we improved. I eventually broke away and played with different muzos and bands, before reuniting with Chris in Glowpeople a sort of funky prog fusion band. That band released several CD albums and played lots of crazy gigs and psychedelic rock festivals. Inevitably being a band that burned bright  – we inevitably burned out! Chris and I then played for a year in another festival band; the more rocking Delphini. All this time, at rehearsal sessions, awaiting the arrival of our bandmates, Chris and I were jamming together, sometimes recording our improvised grooves, unaware that we were already forming Thought Bubble!

Chris: Most of my friends during my formative years were musicians and I used to mess around with sine wave generators and ring modulators, even owning an original ARP Odessy at one stage, but certainly never considered myself a musician as such, but music has been one of the mainstays of my life.

Nick and I were both brought up in Redditch in the West Midlands but didn’t meet up until much later when we both moved to the Shropshire Hills. We first played together with band of friends who just got together for a bit of light entertainment during those long winter nights, nothing too serious and that didn’t last too long. Nick and I kept in touch however as we seemed to have similar curiosity when it came to the sort of music we listened to. Some time later Nick got in touch with me as he was playing with a bass player and guitarist and thought I’d fit in. That turned out into the band Glowpeople which went through a couple of incarnations. We played a lot together, mainly improvising mad jams taking them in many weird and wonderful directions. We played at small festivals and were well received but as is the way of bands after a number of years we drifted apart.

Nick and I went onto to play with the short lived Delphini before covid threw everyone’s lives into abeyance. We’d always swapped musical ideas over the years and when covid and lockdowns came along it only seemed natural to keep ourselves busy.

How do the two of you write music? Is there for instance any jamming involved?

Chris: Sometimes Nick will send a drum track to me to work to, but generally I’ll send Nick something I’ve been working on. Nick has a great ear, so I’m always comfortable sending tracks across to him for mixing and editing before they come back to me for mastering. Unfortunately there has been very little of us being able to jam together lately but a number of tracks have stemmed from lengthy jams that I’ve done which have then been edited down and refined. Neon Garden and Superficial being cases in point. We also enjoy having other people play on tracks if we think it needs another voice and are truly grateful for their willingness to engage and bring never fail to enhance the tracks.

Nick: Yeah, before the pandemic messed everything up – and my subsequent heath issues necessitated my isolation, we did actually jam together. So several tracks on the previous two albums were live jams. However, while ‘Nowhere’ was taking shape we only met outdoors, socially distanced, to discuss ideas.

Tracks, these days, are created remotely. We’ve fallen into a routine that works. It’s usually me who mixes and edits the whole thing into shape. We seem to have fallen into roles and routines, but these aren’t written in stone.

What can you tell me about the spoken word part in Superficial?

Chris: I’ll leave Nick that one, but just say that we’ve probably all been on both sides of that story, and beautifully delivered by Pablo.

Nick: I keep a notebook In which I’m continually scratching away at lyrics and silly rhymes. But, this poem was a bit different. This one was done in response to some miserable arsehole who was draining the joy out of my day. I’m sure we’re all acquainted with at least someone who seems to find pleasure in bringing the whole vibe down. Well, this was me venting myself, without having to resort to sticking pins in a voodoo doll. They’re usually narcissists who aren’t quite getting the attention they crave so resort to less constructive means.

My brother Pablo Raybould is an actor. He does stage, film and television work – and he also has that gift of a versatile voice and can perform in all manner of styles. And, thankfully, once again he was happy to help us on this Thought Bubble track. You may remember him from Möbius Trip on our first album, maybe?

As you’ll hear, once the words have finished, the track changes gear and goes off into rather different territory. We do this a lot and will do again, later on this album.

What are your musical influences? Do you listen to a lot of contemporary music?

Chris: I’ve got an extremely wide range of musical influences in all genres of music and am always searching for things that whet my curiosity. I love music that takes you somewhere unexpected, the thrill of Can, Sun Ra, the melding of different genres of the new generation of British jazz musicians. I recently had the privilege of seeing Matmos perform at the Sonic Lab in Belfast an amazing evening at an amazing venue. It was a real ear opener and truly inspiring. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Telefis, the collaboration between the sadly recently passed genius Cathal Coughlan and Jacknife Lee. Cathal’s band Fatima Mansions were one of my favourite ever live bands, truly awesome.

Nick: When Chris and I were playing in Glowpeople and Delphini, we’d usually give each other a lift over to the rehearsal studios. In our cars is where we’d share our latest discoveries, as we drove. As I remember it, it was probably more Chris turning me onto some amazing new producer than vice versa. I like fusion bands like Snorkel, Taupe and Red Snapper, also more danceable electro outfits like Lamb. I spent the late 80s in a band called The Libertines (not them), who toured as support band to Stourbridge groovies The Wonder Stuff and watched in awe as their lovely and grifted drummer showed me how it’s done.

I think we’re both very open and catholic in our musical tastes. Despite being of senior years, we have pretty much always explored new music. My record buying started with T.REX in 1971 and one of my latest purchases were King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and one of Chris’s recommendations Hania Rani

How do you translate the music on Nowhere to a live setting? What does that look like?

Chris: That’s a tricky one which hopefully we’ll resolve over the coming months. I think for sure it will be the same but completely different if you see what I mean.

Nick: Live? I’ve really no idea yet. Only, our very early recordings were done we played live, in a studio. We’ve yet to actually play a gig, as Thought Bubble. All of this album was done in our two separate studios, recording our responses to each other’s initial tracks. However, I must mention that we do have plans to perform live. I doubt we’ll strive to replicate any actual released track, though. All of ‘Nowhere’ is a series composite production pieces, built up in layers. Lots of performed pieces with overdubs, which have then been edited. And remember we’ve used guest artistes some of whom I doubt we’ll ever meet on a stage.

What is “the dream” for Thought Bubble as musicians?

Chris: To get better.

Nick: I think I’d like to play live with Thought Bubble, which we’re yet to actually achieve – and it would be nice to invite some of the guest collaborators along, too. I’d also like there to be more of a buzz around our releases and enough sales to allow us to buy better gear. I’m happy to continue doing what we do, at the level we’re currently doing it though, too. Maybe a manager could help with getting us into soundtrack work? Also for badgering labels and publishers for future releases.

What are your immediate future plans?

Chris: Looking forward to getting together more often, in order to see what comes out when we’re in the same room.

Nick: As this album took so long to be manufactured – and because we were so locked into that prolific seam, we carried on recording lots more tracks, so we probably have at least one album already done. In fact, we are already in discussion for a release early in 2023.

I might also add that before even that we are planning to release a download only EP, through our Bandcamp site. Online acquaintances Unio & Petitio, a particularly quirky electronic duo offered to remix some of our tracks! So, that will be our next thing. We are reciprocating, by the way – so, I guess their next release will be our remixes of them!

I had a quadruple bypass operation in January 2022, which seems to have been an enormous success, so I feel rebooted and ready to get back out there playing live.

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

Chris: Obviously get a copy of Nowhere, if they don’t already have it. Then go out and see some live music. It’s good for the soul.

Nick: To get get themselves into an appropriately receptive frame of mind and before their motor skills abandon them, to get over to our Bandcamp portal, crank up the amp and immerse themselves into our explorations and sonic adventures. Several times, maybe. And yes, as Chris says, get Nowhere.

Zone Six- Beautiful EP (re-release 2022. Sulatron Records)

A long time ago, in December 1997 to be precise, a couple of gifted musicians found each other and started jamming. They jammed for hours and hours, and decided that they would name themselves Zone Six. At that time the band consisted of a couple of ex-Liquid Vision members (Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, Hans-Peter Ringholz, and Claus Bühler), a keyboard player named Rusty, and an amazing female singer from Australia by the name of Jodi Barry. The EP pretty much revolves around her Portishead-like story telling, while the band anticipates and weaves its patterns of psychedelic triphop jamming.

The EP starts off with Something’s Missing, a mysteriously spiraling thing, that strangely resonates the lyrics “Beautiful” throughout its ten minute haze. Jodi Barry’s vocals are of a mystique subdued beauty that fits the mystery. The lyrics forbode the next song Beautiful, which is a twelve minute triphop piece revolving around Jodi Barry telling her creeped out story about Jack and Jill. It is quite a different piece to anything Zone Six did before or after, but that’s also the cool thing about it. It makes you wonder what this amazing vocalist did after Zone Six, apparently she moved back to Australia but I cannot find anything else…

I guess it is a fitting final mystery for this hazy little gem, which will be released on “beautiful” green vinyl by Sulatron Records. An obligatory buy for later krautrock completist to say the least.

Sounds Of New Soma- Musique Bizarre review + Q&A (2022, Tonzonen Records)

Sounds Of New Soma is Dirk Raupach, also the owner of the revered psych/krautrock label Tonzonen Records from Krefeld, and Alex Djelassi. Their albums are usually mastered by Krautrock legend Eroc from Grobschnitt, but this time around the band decided to do something really special and invite a whole crowd of fellow Tonzonen artists to contribute. So members of bands like The Spacelords, Grombira, Taumel, Vespero, Nazca Space Fox, and MOOP got the chance to contribute a piece of their music, which SONS would then work into their own krautrock creations. The result is an incredible piece of newborn krautrock history with lots of varied angles and sounds. It is a much welcome fresh injection of creativity into the genre, and a celebration of ten years of the Tonzonen label and some of its finest contributors at the same time. This caused for a celebration and an interview with not only Dirk and Alex, but also with most of the other artists, as we walked through the album’s tracklist together…

I have the feeling that Musique Bizarre is probably the most ambitious of your records until now. Where did the original idea for the album come from and how did you come up with the idea of all the guests?

Alex:The original idea for „Musique Bizarre“ was a concept album that reflects all kinds of influences we’re exposed to – musically and socially – as well as our creative work and progress over the past couple of years. Dirk came up with the title, as some kind of counterpart to „La Grande Belezza“. He also had the idea of asking some Tonzonenbands to participate in this project. Expecting a large scale artistic range, I insisted on making it a double album.

Dirk: We always like to try something new and develop ourselves in this way

Did making the album go completely according to the original plan? Were there any hickups or perhaps artists you would have liked to participate that wasn’t possible?Alex:Usually we start out with a blank „canvas“, brainstorming ideas. Sometimes there’s a certain sound, a picture in our mind or a song title that sets the direction. This time the approach was a little bit different. We asked the other artists to send us sound files they think would fit in our „cosmos“. What we received was an overwhelming variety of „sonic information“. Some acts sent us hifi drum and bass tracks, others sent us lo-fi street sounds or jam-room recordings.Having to deal with inconsistent material and transform it into a Sounds Of New Soma – cosmic round-trip turned out to be a new challenge. I’m glad Dirk and I can rely on our working method and complement each other.It was a relief that everyone who contributed to Musique Bizarre was happy with the result. There were quite a few other artists that would have liked to participate, but were not able to record and send their material in time. Maybe we pick up the idea once more on another album.

Did the global pandemic have any influence on the process?

Alex:Yes, absolutely.The creation of song titles, the use of field recordings and the basic mood are definitely influenced by the current situation and the origin of the story that defines „Musique Bizarre“.

Dirk: Yes, there was a delay in the recording, but I think the result speaks for itself. 

Let’s walk through the album and all its guests! Where I found them willing they also contributed to the interview!

  1. Intro 

thanks to Pauline Le Loc‘h and Lucille Kremer 

2. Das Salodenprinzip 

with Ark Fedotov and Ivan Fedotov from Vespero 

Dirk: The song is a collaboration with the Russian band Vespero. I remember exactly how difficult we had it at first with the sound files that were sent to us. But at some point it clicked and the ideas were flowing. It turned out to be an intense, great song. 

Ark: “Dirk’s idea was that we would record rhythm section of bass / drums in style that we want 🙂 to move them into another understanding how to do new stuff for album and it was great result -we try to do some kraut/motorik with reverse bass sound – like Harmonia/Cluster and they done great answer to this with fantastic synth feeling – industrial/Dusseldorf and floating guitar. Really great and we don’t re-record anything- everything works as itself We like to take part in something like that – two different universes that can give each other side something interesting”

3. Hamsterrad 

with Armin Schopper 

Alex:These days some of us feel like they spend the whole day running on a hamster wheel, no progress, …repetition.To capture the atmosphere we recorded a motorik drum track with our friend and permanent guest musician Armin Schopper and worked our way through

4. Dadengi 

spoken by Tom Engstfeld from Kommune 100 

Lyrics (excerpt): „Das Dadalyripipidon“ by Wieland Herzfelde 

Dirk: An avant-garde track with excerpts from a Dadaist poem. The recordings were made with a good friend who recorded the text.

5. Berlin Marrakesch 

with Sven Pollkötter & Jakob Diehl from Taumel and Ralph Nebl from Grombira 

Alex: Accepting different cultures and the understanding among nations is crucial for peace.The basic idea for this track was combining berlin school type of sounds with classical arabic instruments.  Our friends of Taumel and Grombira sent us sounds that were just perfect for this topic, so we made it a trip from Berlin to Marrakesh via space

Ralph Nebl: When I was asked to compose something unique for SONS, I felt touched. Dirk’s call reached me while I was hiking in Italy and i had a lot of ideas directly. I remembered my electronic album: Sheyk rAleph- shifting perspectives from 2016. It was never released finally in lack of a label but there where tons of written and recorded stuff on my HD. I just had to think over what could be that interesting for a production like this. I visualized my self, sitting in the desert and listening to the wind. With eyes closed every whisper of the softly singing streams morphed more and more into a symphonic structure. This structure was binary and started to defragment itself. Just to manifest again in several forms of flying grains of sand. From this moment on, everything was possible. I recognized ancient maqams, old oriental compositions in ornamental forms, moving like a kaleidoscope on the horizon. Great picture indeed. I started to search for any Oud (Oriental Lute) recordings i did for “Shifting Perspectives”. I decided to take an Oud track for “silver wings” which was originally an oriental dance track for my band Grombira but never used. Tension! After few months I received the track they built around, through, under, over, beneath, behind, in front and inside my solo. I was overwhelmed by the organically created piece which seemed to be alive: Anytime I listened to it, it went to become something different. There where soundscapes made of crystals, at the same time musique concrete and layers like the early Klaus Schulze tracks or The Silver Apples from New York. It all meshed up with some mysterious, oriental semblances and was exactly on point. I like it very much and would like to jam it live one day… who knows”

Sven Polkotter: We got a request from the SONS around March 2021 if we would like to participate to their project / experiment. We found the idea very cool, to be able to do what we want – there was no specification at all – absolute freedom! But it took a while until we could deliver something, because we were in the middle of recording our own album.In the end we recorded something quiet with some relaxed chords combined with some ambient sounds. When we got the result we were very surprised that the whole thing was a 3 piece constellation…with Grombira– how cool is that!I’m a total fan – I like this oriental touch in their music! the track is very well done in my opinion! I think it’s great that these two very different fragments (our chords and the somehow improvised melodic fragments from Grombira) are juxtaposed and the music from the SONS puts it all together in an interesting way. Somehow they managed to make those differences sound very homogeneous in conjunction with their own music…as if that’s exactly how it should be. Very cool!

6. Waidmann 

with Stefan Bahlk from Nazca Space Fox 

Dirk: Stefan from Nazca Space Fox played us something with trumpet. You have to come up with that idea. Above all, what should we make of it! But… the result is very cool, I think. 

Stephan: As you might know I play the Bass in NAZCA SPACE FOX, but almost nobody knows I also play the Guitar and Trumpet since childhood. During a telephone call with Dirk, regarding the Artwork for their new Musique Bizarre album cover (I work as a freelance graphic designer,, we were exactly discussing this fact. Dirk liked the idea to have a Trumpet on one of the tracks for the new SOUNDS OF NEW SOMA album and I was also stoked of it. So Waidmann was born! The whole process of creating was very open. Dirk and Alex let me do whatever I had in mind. So my idea was a trip outer space; kind of ominous; Ridley Scott vibes. I recorded the Trumpet files in my home studio using a vintage Shure SM58, which is known for giving trumpets a very slight dirty sound. After sending the files to Dirk and Alex, we were talking about wobbly synth sounds, and that I like that much. Then the two let their creativity play. When I heard the final raw mixes, I was totally stoked! The song is exactly what I had in mind! I really like the idea of a band making an album with guest musicians. So much creativity, influences, different ways of creating and of course great musicians. I was very curious about the whole album. After listening to it, it really blew my mind. Every song is different, but the album is still a whole in the end. You feel the guest musician’s influences as well as SOUNDS OF NEW SOMA making the songs their own! Feels like a soundtrack to me, great to listen to! Thanks Dirk and Alex for letting me be a part of this awesome project!

7. Klausz

Alex: Dirk had the idea of „piano and sunrise“ – with a positive mood to it. This is what I came up with.

8. Gökotta 

with William Brandy, Julien Coupet & Erwin Toul from Moop 

Alex: Goekotta, is Swedish and means to get up very early in the morning to listen to the first birds chirping outside. MOOP had a jam track for us which, after adding our SONS-spices, seemed to awaken this feeling in a very bizarre kind of way.

William: First, we sent Dirk a collective improvisation made for a compilation of improvised music for “Jazz à Poitiers”. We had recorded 2 improvisations: one was used for the compilation “Jazz à Poitiers”, the other was sent to Sounds of New Soma (it required more editing work and therefore corresponded well to Dirk’s project). Dirk then sent me the result. I think he used the different effects well to make this improvisation even more psychedelic. It doesn’t really look like MOOP’s music anymore: it’s really new music from material from MOOP. After re-listening, I find that he brought an “underwater” side to this improvisation. As if we were walking around in an “underwater” version of Gotham City, mysterious and full of dangers. I haven’t listened to the other Musique Bizarre tracks yet.

9. Balkenspirale 

with Akee Kazmaier & Marcus Schnitzler from The Spacelords 

Dirk: Balkenspirale was created in collaboration with The Spacelords. Actually a classic psych rock song in the sound garb of Sounds Of New Soma

Akee: “Dirk wrote a circular to all Tonzonen bands and their members, including me, asking to record a short music sample each. In this mail, he explained the sense and purpose as well as the procedure. Of course, Marcus and I gladly agreed and recorded a snippet for Dirk and Alex. The most interesting part was, what they would create out of our two fragments. Now, the product is finished! I was very surprised and liked the outcome a lot. Really a nice idea, happy to be part of it.”

10. Ueberschwupper

Dirk: A purely electronic song. Short and crisp. A video will be published for this song, as well as for Balkenspirale

11. Holzwurm

Alex:A „Holzwurm“ (woodworm) eating his way through a wooden spaceship. When the ship’s structural integrity finally fails, the worm dissolves into space

12. Fliederbusch 

with Clumsy & Jokey 

Alex: As you know we don’t take ourselves too seriously. The base of Fliederbusch is a spontaneous studio jam. Artistic freedom, the joy of creation, no rules – that’s what Sounds Of New Soma are all about.

Dirk: Crazy shit, we have met Clumsy and Jokey. 

Review + Q&A Neon Heart – Livet/Ytan (2022, self-released)

I have a deep respect for fully improvised (psych) music and musicians that dare to dive deep into the unknown. The “jam” to me is an enigmatic thing, and to always jam, and never know how it will end up, is terribly frightening for a control freak perfectionist like me. So for a band like Swedish improv jam band Neon Heart to devote their existence to just that: to float freely without constraint, no verses, no choruses, just to listen closely to each other and go go go. That is heroic.

Not to say that they are the first or last to do it, -cough CAN, cough-, but Neon Heart are definitely one of the few bands I have recently met that are completely devoted to play their music unrehearsed, unprepared, unwritten. Surprisingly the result is not chaos, but a very natural sounding band, mixing up repeating rhythmic pulse with beautiful jazzy horns, subtle postrock guitar noodling, and enigmatic -also improvised- vocals.

Just listen to Livet/Ytan and realize these individuals are truly living in the moment while recording. They are one living, breathing organism together that pulsates and throbs wherever the vibe takes them for an hour and a half, without missing a beat.

I was impressed, and flabbergasted no record label had been willing to take them on for this trip! Feeling the need to tell people about this discovery, I sought contact with the band, and found drummer Magnus Nordén willing to elaborate on his beautiful project.

Neon Heart (live)

How have you guys been during the past corona years? How have you managed as people and as a band?

The pandemic hasn’t been much fun. Even if Sweden didn’t have the total lockdowns of other countries, we did have restrictions that concerned most areas of life – live gigs were banned some periods.

Just before the pandemic, in September 2019, we released our five-track album Trio. We had gathered some momentum, and had decided to self-release a vinyl lp in 2020, Neon Heart. Which we did in May. By then, the pandemic ruled the world, and we had to cancel the release party.

On the other hand, we got very creative. From June to August 2020 we recorded all the material for our third album, temporaria. This happened between the first and second corona waves here in Sweden. After temporaria, we began working on yet another album (our latest release Livet/Ytan) and continued recording for this until 27 October. Then, the second wave hit Sweden, and we couldn’t meet up to play until June 2021.

This was frustrating, as we had a good thing going and were getting great international reviews.

On a personal level, we’ve been okay. Even if we couldn’t play together for long periods, we kept in touch in other ways, because we are also good friends.

Can you introduce Neon Heart to us? 

Neon Heart was started by me in 2006. Our concept is simple: No verse-refrain structure. No written songs. No soloists. Improvisation. Freedom to do what you want.

But this also entails responsibility. If everyone is free to do what they want, it is also easy to swamp the freedom of others. So listening is extremely important.

Neon Heart has had various members over the years, but we’ve been the same five players since 2018.

Neon Heart (live)

What is your musical background? 

As a drummer, I come from post-punk/new wave, and I also play jazz.

Johnny and Petter have a background in post-punk/new wave like me.

Björn was a founding member of Commando M Pigg, a legendary Swedish new wave band.

Daniel has strong links to art music, progressive rock, and jazz.

Johnny played guitar in the first version of Neon Heart, left and then re-joined as a bass player. I met the others through an impro network here in Stockholm.

How did you get drawn into the world of the psychedelic?

I had a penchant for psychedelia when young, I listened a lot to the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Moody Blues, Gentle Giant, the Doors, Cream, Love, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, the Mothers of Invention and other early psychedelic rock bands. Primarily, though, I think I just like long delay lines.

All the other members in Neon Heart have monumental pedal boards, with multitudes of fx boxes, so we all like freaky sounds, I guess.

But we are not that psychedelic as people. I do have round glasses, though.

Can you tell me about the writing and recording process of Livet/Ytan?

We don’t write songs. At all. Not even the tiniest note. Everything we play is improvised. Even Johnny’s lyrics are improvised. We literally never play the same song twice.

During the pandemic we started recording all our rehearsals. We did this since it was almost impossible to have live gigs and we wanted some pressure on ourselves. This resulted in a lot of material.

The tracks on Livet/Ytan were recorded between June and October 2020. I do all the recording, set up the mics, wire up the speaker cabinets etc. I also do all the mixing/production.

I go through the recordings and choose the parts I think are good. I work on those a lot. When I’m happy with the resulting song/track, I present it to the rest of the band for their feedback, which I incorporate, and eventually a finished song trickles out the other end. Our process is very similar to how Can worked.

For Livet/Ytan we chose between 47 tracks, which were all good enough. There are 13 tracks on the album, so a lot of material has never been heard by anyone outside the band, except my wife.

When the track list for Livet/Ytan had been agreed upon, we sent the mixes to Subvert Central Mastering in the UK. Leon Smith there is a great mastering engineer, who has mastered almost all our releases.

We knew that it wouldn’t be easy to find a label for a vinyl version of Livet/Ytan. So, instead of waiting around, we decided to self-release the album as a double-CD. CDs are way cheaper to make than vinyl, and still physical. We had already self-released our two previous albums. Temporaria was picked up by Adansonia after we had self-released it as a CD, so a double-CD was the right thing to do at the time.

Can you tell us about your hunt for a label? What are you looking for? Perhaps some of them are reading?!

I’ve contacted labels about Livet/Ytan. Adansonia released our previous album, Temporaria, on vinyl. However, a vinyl double-lp is a big ask. Perhaps two labels could partner up, splitting the costs for such an ambitious project?

A double album wasn’t the wisest choice, perhaps. But the material we had craved a double album. So, there we are.

What are your immediate future plans, what is your ultimate band goal?

Our immediate future plans include live gigs in Stockholm and Göteborg. We would love to participate in festivals in Europe, and to do a European tour. We would also love to release Livet/Ytan as a vinyl double-LP.

We’re already working on our next album. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I would certainly love it if we could release it towards the end of 2022.

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

The reader should head over to our Bandcamp, listen to our music, enjoy the weirdness, buy one of our albums, help us find a label for a Livet/Ytan vinyl, and invite us to their local psychedelic festival/venue.

Neon Heart, 2022

Einseinseins – Zwei (2022 Tonzonen Records)

The robots are among us! With their highly developed AI they have wormed their way into the mainframe of human conscious and are now taking over music to reprogram us through catchy electronic tunes, 80s wave, and pure and uncut krautrock that will make you shake your limbs robot style. Oh, and they sing in German of course, but that’s selbstverständlich, not?

EinsEinsEins -it’s a lovely bandname, isn’t it- from Germany have definitely embraced their inner robot and are engaging their music through a machine-built 80s mainframe, recalling Kraftwerk, Genesis, and 80s wave bands like DEVO. Total nerd music of course, but absolutely loveable and well executed. I can totally see this rocking some smoking hot chemistry students party on a Saturday night.

The songs are long, but memorable, and varied enough to hold their own separately. EinsEinseins wrote them as such, with a different approach each time, and even though they are total robots, Zwei does not sound repetitive or soulless. Especially for people that grew up listening to a lot of 80s music on the radio their will be plenty of Easter eggs to discover within.

Don’t believe me though, I have been 100% reprogrammed to write favorable things about these German machines. The music did that to me. I don’t mind it either, and neither will you. In fact, by the time you read this while playing their tunes on the bandcamp player, it is already too late!

Interview: Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (Sulatron Records, Electric Moon, Zone Six, and many more…)

Dave Schmidt

Where to begin introducing Dave Schmidt aka Sula Bassana? The German musician has been a household name in the psychedelic music scene for ages it seems, playing festivals and releasing records with his (ex-) bands Liquid Visions, Electric Moon, Zone Six, and many more. Not to mention running his own label, and releasing important albums by bands like Giobia, Saturnia, and Sun Dial. There is a ton of experience and interesting stories to explore here, so let’s dig in, because Dave is willing to share!

Can you tell me how you have managed as a musician and a label owner during the corona crisis so far? In what way(s) has it affected your ways?

For me as a single person in a single house in the countryside it made no big difference in life. Only the sales got really low because everyone was in fear and stopped buying unnecessary stuff. But after a while it slowly got a bit better. And I’m happy I received some help (money) from the government one time, which helped me to survive.
Also I am burnt out and need some rest and much less gigs. So it came at the right time for me. And I moved into a new house (new, hahahaha, 200 years old and a total mess) where I had (and still have) to renovate a lot. And we played a few gigs anyway, which was nice.

Can you tell me a little bit of where and how you live and how you usually go about your day?

I live in a small farmers village near the beautiful Kellerwald (wood area) in northern part of Hesse (a county in the middle of Germany). I work around 6-12 hours a day for the label/shop/promo… and sometimes (very seldom at the moment) I make some music or do long walks in the woods.

Sula at work

You have been around in the psych/stoner/kraut scene in Europe for quite some time, what is or was the best time for this scene would you think and why? Can you share some memories?

Uh, in 35 years on stage there are a lot of stories. Don’t know which ones to pick out. I always had some great times and some bad ones. The best time for this scene is always, hahahaha. It always was a small scene (I mean the psychedelic/acid/kraut scene, not the stoner/doom/metal scene, this one is MUCH bigger!) with just a few bands and possibilities. I started in the 80s with electronic music and we had some nice highlights as playing in 2 Berlin Planetariums (at Insulaner and Zeiss Großplanetarium), making small cassette tape issues as our releases, and contributed some tracks to CD samplers and a vinyl sampler (in 1987). Later, in the 90s, with Liquid Visions we played some sixties style psychedelic with some pretty spaced out psych rock jams, with full liquid light shows and blacklight performance. Maybe it was 20 years too late or too early, not many people might remember this band, but we released 5 vinyl albums and played around 10 years! Mostly in Berlin, but also in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic and Switzerland. So, there were plenty of funny stories.

In 1997 I founded the free form impro spacekraut band Zone Six, which is still active and will have its 25th anniversary next year. 2 vinyl-albums to celebrate it are already in the pressing plant. We jammed with some guests over the years: Nik Turner, Huw Lloyd Langton (both Hawkwind), and Ax Genrich (early Guru Guru)!
Later (in 1998) I was drummer in Growing Seeds, a band who travelled to Portugal in several camping vehicles to record an album. That was a fantastic and strange trip, with recording sessions at spectacular places. Best was a (I guess) 100 meters high cliff, were the shore was loudly breaking below and we were jamming on top of the rocks. Sadly we never released these recordings, except just a 7“ ep.
I also have played some gigs in a acid rock trio with Ax Genrich and Mani Neumeier (Guru Guru) and had some more projects.

Growing Seeds

When I moved to Austria for a few years I played in a indie rock band called Alice Dog and founded Interkosmos with Pablo Carneval (later Zone Six and Electric Moon) and Sergio Ceballos (Mohama Saz, ex Rip KC, Melange) for some serious spaced out music. We played gigs in Austria and Spain and made one album. After 2 years we split because Sergio went back to Spain and I moved back to Germany. But we are back after a 12 years hiatus, had 2 gigs this year and started new recordings!

In 2009 we founded Electric Moon with Pablo and Komet Lulu. Our first gig was at the legendary Duna Jam in Italy and we released a huge amount of albums. This is the most known band I’m a member of I would say. We played (almost) all over Europe and had a fantastic residency week and festival in Tunisia in 2019!
We also did some albums with a project that lived only for 3 days or so, called Krautzone. This is real krautrock!
Sorry for telling my history in very short words here. Just to show you it is hard to pick out some special moments. There are so many… 🙂

Electric Moon and Talea Jacta

About Electric Moon: can you tell me a bit more about how you got to know Lulu and Pablo and how you managed to stay creative and prolific for such a long time? And are you only in a band together or are you also friends outside of music would you say?

When I moved to Austria in 2006 I met Pablo (Bernhard Fasching) at concerts of his band The Blowing Lewinsky and we became friends. Actually he is one of my closest friends! He started playing drums in Interkosmos and later I met Lulu and she moved into the cold house in the woods where I lived and we became a couple for several years. When Lulu wanted to start a band we did some recordings as a duo (I played the drums in the very first recordings and overdubbed Guitar and Organ then. You find the tracks on Lunatics & Lunatics Revenge). But this way was a bit frustrating so we invited Pablo to join us and the first recording became Moon Love. So it worked very well from the beginning. When Lulu and I moved back to Germany Pablo left and we had some years of changing drummers, but in 2017 he joined us again and is still the drummer. Last year we invited Joe Muff to play Guitar in Electric Moon, so we have been 4 members since a while.

Growing Seeds

Could you elaborate a bit more about Growing Seeds? It sounds like a really awesome and important event in your musical journey! Also the pictures are great; real Pink Floyd-y :))) Can you tell me what influence those jams had on your later career?

Oh, that was a story… We played some gigs together with my band Liquid Visions, and also with Zone Six, around 1997/98 and all 3 bands were booked for the Burg Herzberg Festival in 1998. So a few days before the festival I went down to Bayreuth (where they lived) to have some nice days with them (we instantly became good friends when we met at the first concert with our bands). First evening we jammed a bit and I played the drums. Next day we found a note from the Growing Seeds drummer, that he moved to Nürnberg and left the band. Bang! 3 days before a nice festival gig! So they looked at me and asked if I could replace him. I never played drums in a band and didn’t know all their live tracks, so we rehearsed hard for 3 days and already made a new song in those days too and then played the concert. It was big fun and so I became their drummer. I hitchhiked from Berlin to the gigs we had, only equipped with my pair of sticks (really only one pair! Hahahaha). That was so much fun that I decided to move to Bayreuth in late summer 1998. I quickly bought a 1968 Trixon Drumset and some hardware in Berlin and then moved to Bayreuth. Suddenly the idea was born to go to Portugal to record an album somewhere in nature. We borrowed some camping mobiles, stored our equipment in the vehicles and went down south in October 1998. It was a super intense trip with tons of stories. Enough for a nice little book. We recorded 12 tapes on my kassette 8-track in several spots in Portugal, but never released these monumental jams. Only a 3 track 7“ EP that runs on 33 on one side and on 45 on the other side (incl. 2 tracks from the coast) was released (Pleitegeier Records). In early 1999 we split up due to private reasons and I moved back to Berlin. The first pair of sticks was still in use! 😀

Growing Seeds, playing in a meadow in Portugal

I’m still in touch with these people. Andi and I did another Weltraumstaunen album some later. Silke (Ellipopelli) and I started Südstern 44 together when she moved to Berlin, but after a CD and CD-R I left Berlin. In 2006 we did the Sula Bassana and the Nasoni Pop Art Experimental Band Vol. 1 album for Nasoni Records, which will be re-issued in 2022.
The Keyboarder Vuzz T. (Sebastian Züger), plus Hale Prob (Holger Probst), a friend of him, and me started the Space Shuttle Pilots project with several recordings, one concert but no official release, except a cool video which is hard to find on youtube.
Growing Seeds and all the experiences with these people made of course a deep impact into my soul. Silke and Vuzz T. are still very close friends of mine.

Can you tell me what it has been like starting up and maintaining your own music label? Would you recommend it to anyone? Why or why not?

After a long time without a proper job it was the only way to survive for me. I worked hard to get into the business and still do. But I’m so happy I did it. For me it was the right way after being a musician for more than 20 years. I started in a time when not many labels in the psychedelic rock direction were active, which is completely different to today. Which makes it even harder to survive. So, I can not really recommend it. It brings not much money and is tons of work. But I run my label for over 15 years now and have a strong base in the meantime. And I release and promote my own music too, which makes it easier for me to do nothing else than this job. 

Are there stories to tell about certain artists on your label and how you met them? Saturnia or Giobia for instance? How did you get to know them? And how do you rather get to know new artists? I bet you get a lot of demo admissions…

In most cases I prefer to release music of people I know personally.
Sometimes music I found somewhere and went in touch with the band then. But this is mostly only for an album, not many real friendships happen this way.
Or just asking bands even though I think they will never reply, like Sun Dial. But they did and now we are friends and I can release a lot of their wonderful music.
Giobia just sent me a demo which I liked. So I asked for more and got the chance to take my favourite tracks for the first release I did with them. After the second release things got weird, so we ended our relationship.
Saturnia is a band/project I have really liked for almost two decades. I sold a lot of Luis’ stuff via my shop, which was released so far by Elektrohasch. Elektrohasch is one of the few labels I work directly with. But Stefan stopped releasing non-Colour Haze-acts, so he was interested in handing Saturnia over to Sulatron, which was a fast decision for me to make! I really love this album I released!

Luis Simoes of Saturnia

Which or what influences have made you into the musician you are today? Can you recall the moment you knew you just had to “go for it”?

Oh, there were several. It all started in the 70s when I fell in love with synthesizer sounds. So for me it was clear that I will do electronic music when I get the opportunity. So with the years some gear was collected and I started playing concerts in several electronic duos, trios and solo. But when I saw Hawkwind playing for the first time (early 90s) I was so fascinated by Alan Davey’s sound that I decided to quit electronic music and start playing bass. And since then I love to play every instrument I get between my fingers. 🙂

Dave’s first band Liquid Visions

What do you think about the European “scene” today, is there one? Do you feel there is a lot of support for our music these days? Was it better before, and how?

As I told already there is no real scene for my kind of music. Only a few bands get the chance to play at bigger festivals or tour more than a weekend. Except Electric Moon, which has some doomy moments which makes it more popular, and we play a lot of festis. And I’m thankful there are some really open minded festivals around, such as Yellowstock (Belgium), Roadburn (Netherlands) or Kozfest (UK), where you can see really far out  bands from all countries. But most of the nice small and cozy festivals are not existing anymore, which is very sad.

The psychedelic music scene has of course always had associations with drug use, or at least being inspired by the use of certain psychedelics. In what way have you experienced drugs as an inspiration for your art?

Oh, acid was a big changer in my music back in the 90s. It had a deep impact and changed my own music and taste in a great way. But I don’t recommend any drug use. Everyone must decide for her/himself.

Can you tell me about your latest works? Which records should be one everyone’s mind right now and why?

My very new Sula Bassana CD (2-LP will be out in summer next year on Pancromatic Records) is called Loop Station Drones and contains tracks I did in spontaneous sessions all alone, plus loopstations, effect pedals, a drumcomputer and a bunch of Instruments, in 3 evenings. These are almost live played tracks with only a little post production and sound relaxed and trancy.

Also freshly out is the album Sabotar (CD and LP, marbled 180 gr. wax, lim. to 500!) by Electric Moon together with Portugal’s psychedelic trance duo Talea Jacta. The music was created live as one band with all members from both bands and is completely improvised live on stage of the legendary Sabotage Club in Lisbon during the concert in 2019. This is a really tripped out cosmic krautrock of the experimental kind.

And I just finished a new solo album with more band orientated songs, with Drums, Bass, Guitars and everything. I started recording in 2013 but didn’t find the time and energy to finish earlier. But it will definitely be released next year!
Ah, and around April next year will be the release of a 15 years old album, I made with a bunch of friends back then, called Sula Bassana and the Nasoni Pop Art Experimental Band (Vol.1) and came out originally in 2006 on Nasoni Records Berlin, to celebrate Nasoni’s 10 years anniversary. And now, 15 years later (sadly the LP is delayed to 2022, argh!) it is the 25 years Nasoni anniversary album. It will come with a new artwork, 2 patches, and on 180 gr. colour vinyl, limited to 500 copies.

And next year we have 25th anniversary of my band Zone Six! To celebrate it I already have 2 albums in the pressing plant, a 10“ EP with 2 songs from our second recording session (1997) and the vinyl re-issue of the debut album (recorded 1997 and only released on cassette tape) which was out in 1998 on CD only and with overdubbed vocals by a friend from Australia (Jodi Barry). In 2017 I released this album in the original instrumental version on vinyl (as 20 years anniversary LP) and it sold out fast. So there will be a re-issue of that LP with slightly changed cover and with 2-colour vinyl!

Can you tell me when a record becomes a Sula Bassana record and when Zone Six or Electric Moon? What is the deciding factor creatively? And how do you separate all your musical endeavors?

That’s easy, because it always depends on the people I play with. Electric Moon is a band with members, so it is Electric Moon. And so with Interkosmos and Krautzone. In Zone Six people change from time to time. And everything I do alone will become a Sula Bassana release.

What are the plans with Electric Moon recording-wise? And how about live? Will there be any more future Planetarium sessions for instance?

We just returned from a intense concert at the Desertfest in Gent (Belgium). And we will have another concert at November 26 at the Vortex Surfer Club in Siegen (Germany). Sarkh, the band run by Electric Moon’s new second guitar wizard Joe Muff, will play that night also.
We all for sure hope that we will play at Planetarium Bochum again. But as far as I know there is nothing fixed so far.
I guess we finished 2 new tracks for a 4-band split double LP which will be out on Komet Lulu’s label Worst Bassist Records next year. You will find one LP side by Kungens Män, ElonMusk and Kanaan, next to us.
And we recorded more and will go on recording for a new album.

Growing Seeds in Portugal

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do directly after this interview?

Whatever they want 🙂
Stay healthy, peaceful and psychedelic. Listen to good music, enjoy nature and animals, be nice to others, laugh, love and spread good vibes! 🙂

Thanks for the long interview!!!
Love and peace

Fotocredits: Kilian Schloemp

Oslo Tapes- Ør (2021 Pelagic Records)

Space is the place indeed! The new album by Italian neo-krautrockers Oslo Tapes ignites in all the right colors with opener Space Is The Place, setting the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the record. This is an album for heads, reverb addicts, and krautrock chewers with their third eye widely open to weird experiences.

Your mind needs to open itself like a window in spring, because Oslo Tapes don’t walk any easy roads. Nor do they settle for a certain comfortability in their sound, as each song sounds completely different. For instance, Zenith and Kosmic Feels are more electronic-based haze tracks, while Bodø Dakar starts of with a Queens Of The Stone Age riff, only to completely electro-fy it later. Sometimes they do a ritualistic New Order dance, at their poppiest they’d even border 80s wave like Cocteau Twins. At other times they edge towards goth via Nine Inch Nails or even the harsh psych noise of a band like Gnod. And not a Norwegian in sight! It’s outrageous.

As an album experience, Ør really feels like a dream in which your mind wanders from room to room. In each room there’s a different weird experience, from the surreal weightlessness of Exotic Dreams to the electronic gothwave stomp of Obsession Is The Mother Of All. However, in all its haziness one thing is crystal clear: Oslo Tapes provides an electronic palette of sounds and will never settle for boredom. Ør is an electrifying album that serves a much needed breath of fresh air in a scene based on old values. It comes highly recommended.