(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
I first heard Portland, Oregon’s Danava when I saw them open up for Acid Mothers Temple a few months ago. I thought they were very cool and I meant to pick up one of the albums they had on sale but I guess I was just too busy emptying my wallet on all the Acid Mothers merchandise. I finally got around to picking up a copy of their latest disc about a week ago and they are even more impressive on album than they were live. While I’m not the biggest fan of the stoner rock movement, there are some bands that I think are really creative stylistically and this would be another to add to that list. The band has a nice heavy rock sound mixed with a little synth-infused space rock and other original elements. If the early Black Sabbath band had been collaborating with, let’s say Kraftwerk at some point, the results might have sounded not unlike this album.
The leader of the band is named Dusty Sparkles…I kid you not! He’s the vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, arranger and also co-produces. With a name like that, you would think this would be an ultra-glam band. They do have some glam qualities however and his vocals do sound a bit like David Bowie at times. Most of the time, he reminds me of early 70’s Ozzy, and while I usually tire easily of guys that sing like that, it sounds different here. Listening to Danava is like taking a trip back into the 70s and hearing a band experimenting within a style and actually trying to be original. What a novel idea!
The rest of band consists of Dell Blackwell on bass, Buck Rothy on drums and clarinet, and Rockwell on synthesizer. There are also a couple other musicians that are credited on the album, Matt Brown on trumpet and Danny Bensi on cello but I don’t think they appear on every track.
The music has a definite retro/sludge edge with fuzzed out guitars and a very powerful rhythm section. Like I mentioned earlier, think early Sabbs like Master of Reality type stuff. Several tracks also have a heavy synth presence as well, like on “The Emerald Snow of Sleep” which contains a nice upfront sequencer riff that sets the rhythm for the song. There’s also a brass/woodwind section that crops up from time to time that gives the band another dimension to the sound. Sometimes there are hooks in the songs but never to the point where it becomes cheesy, just a little catchy. Danava can also have a prog edge at times and just jam; the longer tracks toward the end of the album like the 13-minute “One Mind Gone Separate Ways” give them a chance to stretch out.
Everything on UnonoU is good and the disc just gets better every time I listen to it. I can see why a band like Acid Mothers Temple chose to go on the road with these guys. There’s definitely a future for Danava in the retro realm and beyond.