Kula Shaker

EP Reviews:

1997: Summer Sun E.P.

Summer Sun E.P.

Rating: 7.7/10
Rated as
: EP
Album Status
: for Genre-Enthusiasts
Released: 1997
Specific Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Main Genre: Rock, Psychedelia
: Raga Rock, Britpop, Neo-Psychedelia
Label: Columbia

1. Govinda ’97 (Hari & St. George) 2. Gokula 3. Dance in Your Shadow 4. Raagy One (Waiting for Tomorrow) 5. Moonshine 6. Troubled Mind

Lost in blue light all around

Hadn’t I known the band and their aesthetics, the cover art alone would have made me skip this one: What is this, a hair metal take on Robocop made in Bollywood? Don’t let the technoid “golden avatar” (historically, the one responsible for Hare-Krshna-chants, resurfacing on their 1999-album track of the same name) scare you away, you’re in for something that is equal parts Vanilla Fudge and early Pink Floyd, complete with a fixation on Indian mythology saving us from cubicles and plastic.

And it’s an EP actually worth the money: Wedging itself between their first two albums, this is a quite juicy addition to the world of psychedelic raga-britpop, with an instinct for 1960s rock riffs, silly lyrics about „higher grounds“ or „finding your way“, and they really mean it. This is the grandiose side of psychedelia, the big stuff. The sound is closer to their second album Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts (1999), it’s less dense than their debut K (1996), less preoccupied with texture, and instead favouring classic pop rock craftsmanship: Big melodic motions, acid rock guitars, likeable tenor vocals and simple, atmospheric organ chops taken directly from the Doors.

You get the „Govinda“-single here, which is really quite different and much harder rocking than the album version from 1996’s K. With its immediate, soaring and yet strangely Indian chorus, it is probably the best example of the band’s slightly transitional sound from the first to the second album. It’s followed by „Gokula“, a short rocker relying on one very catchy hard rock guitar riff, and the EP dives into Indian inner space from here on: Meditation and space (in „Raagy One“), mellow and winding opium den soundtracks (“Moonshine”, sounding so Sixties it’s almost distracting), and the yearning, urgent closer „Troubled Mind”. The latter has a very gripping melody, delivered with their very believeable passion.

It is really close to 1960s’ camp, or pastiche. But the band’s saving grace: They do all this with a completely straight face, and their now slightly jazzier psychedelia doesn’t fail them. If you like their first two albums, these six tracks are probably a necessary addition.