Nothing But Nothing by DanavaRelease date: April 28, 2023
Label: Tee Pee Records
It will take about 14 seconds for you to decide whether like this album or not: you’ll hear a dizzying riff which introduces the title track, followed by a couple of chugs on a rhythm guitar in time with a dripping-with-anticipation series of cymbal chokes. Then the accelerator is floored. It’ll grow frills on the suede jacket you didn’t even know you were wearing, make your belt buckle holding up your flares swell into an eagle shape or something, before rendering the air into a hazy, pachouli-scented fog. This is unashamedly retro, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, with a decent slab of velocity.
Anyone who has followed Danava through their career will not be surprised that this album continues the late-60s feel of the previous efforts. By late-60s, we don’t mean the flowery aspects of that decade, more the malevolent, dangerous, acid-and-PCP-fuelled bits that Hunter S Thompson inadvertently glamourised in Hell’s Angels. Take ‘Let the Good Times Kill’ for example. It is a great song: you’d step into a room playing this with the full expectation that you’d have fun but with the large caveat that things could turn nasty very quickly. And titles like ‘At Midnight You Die’ and ‘Strange Killer’ give otherwise high-speed boogies a whole new level of freakiness.
And here’s the thing: though Nothing But Nothing does wear its iron-on mushroom patch on its grubby sleeve, the quality of musicianship, up-front production and frequent accelerations into Motörhead levels of tempo make it sound energetic and relevant. Or maybe it is because I love the sound of aggressive and psychedelic riffs. Probably a bit of both.
Danava have been around since 2003, although guitarist-vocalist-keyboard player Gregory Meleney is the sole remaining original member. And on this album, their first for Tee Pee Records, they have not veered too far from the path they had forged their last album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows. And it is worth mentioning that they slot in very comfortably with much of Tee Pee’s heavy-stoner-psych roster.
Having said that, there are a couple of songs which veer off the heavy-psych path at the end of the album – firstly in ‘Nuthin’ But Nuthin’’, which is anchored by a spacey analogue synth as part of the rhythm section, then ‘Cas’, which is Czech for Time – and presumably sung in that language. It is a brooding, bluesy number which creeps along its minor-chord progression in the opening verse like a grumpy drunk before opening up into a yearning chorus. It is a surprising way to end the party – but kids, the party has to end sometime.