Sula Bassana - The Ape Regards His Tail 2LP Vinyl (Clear)

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Special Features: Limited to 500 copies on clear vinyl.


Side A

  1. Beginning
  2. Dreams
  3. Rocks
  4. Desert

Side B

  1. Sand Waves
  2. Rocks
  3. Ending

Side C

  1. Water

Release Date: January 19, 2018

Label: Pancromatic Records

Origin: Norway

It's a pretty well accepted fact that a movie is nothing without music.....can you imagine 'Bladerunner' without that Vangelis score or 'Apocalypse Now' without the haunting strains of The Door's 'The End' soundtracking the lysergic trip through the Vietnamese rainforest. It's also fair to say that the move from band-based 'rock' musician to soundtrack composer is fraught with risk...not everyone can become the next Clint Mansell, or indeed Vangelis. Anyone who listened to Sula Bassana's last, excellent, album 'Organ Accumulator' will already be aware of the soundtrack quality of his solo, more electronic based output - from the John Carpenteresque 'The Frogs' to the Vangelis (that name again!) inspired 'Nebelschwaden' - all just crying out for a film to go with them. Film director Michael Yates obviously thought so too and asked Sula to score his existential sci-fi film 'The Ape Regards His Tail'. Needless to say, it is a triumph of film composition. 

The film's synopsis runs as follows: "In an empty, desert landscape, a man wakes up alone. In pain, with no water and no memory of who he is or how he got there, he sets out to find help. As the elements take their toll on him, he begins to doubt his sanity." Not having seen the film myself, that synopsis was all I had with which to frame the album but, as is the case with all the great soundtracks, the story can be represented through the tracks alone...not the details but the prevailing moods and atmospheres. Starting with the minimal drone and ambient stylings of 'Beginning' one can already vision a desolate landscape which leads nicely into the more prosaic and trippy 'Dreams' with it's oscillating drones giving things a feeling of hypnagogic reverie, like the dwam before sleep. 'Rocks 1' has a vague hint of the orient amidst its ambient kosmische but the dark drones that lurk in the background give it a touch of dread. 'Desert' takes the dread thread and runs with it...again it's the drones in the background that imbue the track with its darkness whilst the foreground is filled with some Berlin era synth lines. To go back to the synopsis for a minute, the inexorable fall into madness and paranoia is reflected beautifully in 'Sand Waves' ...there is a feeling of tension building and the crumbling of facades in the way the track rises and falls. Musically is it a lovely piece of Schulze like kosmische that harks back to the seventies...or rather the future as was envisioned in the seventies. As with 'Nebelschwaden' there is also a definite Vangelis influence here in the pulsing rhythm that underscores everything. 'Rocks 2' follows on from where '1' left off with the echoey eastern motif lying hauntingly over more dense drones. 'Water' is the longest piece on the album at 20 minutes and begins, unsurprisingly, with visions of water. It is a track that borders of the dark ambient of Lustmord with its cavernous drones and minimal electronica. It is deeply atmospheric and darkly meditative and is the standout piece on the soundtrack. Things are wrapped up with 'Ending' that is the most optimistic track - twinkling synth lines and even the drones are lighter. It has the authentic feel of a seventies soundtrack and brings things to a close in a satisfying manner. 

As I mentioned earlier, I have yet to see the film and so I cannot vouch for how well this soundtrack fits with the visuals etc, however, as a keen fan of soundtracks I can vouch for how this 'sounds' ... it has an authenticity and a sincerity that compares more than favourably with some of the great soundtrack composers of yore. The mix of ambient and the kosmische creates atmospheres and visions that enables the listener to create their own imaginary films as they listen. I was always gonna like this being a fan of Sula's work and soundtracks, my only fear was that the move to soundtrack composer would be a step too far....Oh! foolish me...Sula's music has always had a soundtrack quality and in 'The Ape Regards His Tail' the music has found its spiritual, celluloid home. Brilliant music and can't wait to see the film. -