Rosco and Pete Bassman (né Baines), the original rhythm section of England’s extraordinary Spacemen 3, formed the Darkside as a side band in 1986, devoting themselves to it several years later. On All That Noise, the Rugby trio has the Doors’ old rainy-night bass/drums sound down cold, but that dubious achievement is the album’s best feature. The other notable elements on this atmospheric but underwhelming record — Bassman’s lazy artless-pop vocals, Rosco’s wheedly organ, and guitar work that ranges from a translucent pop drizzle to floods of pseudo-psychedelic distortion — don’t amount to much. Other than “Good for Me,” the songwriting is too weak to carry the load. Lacking the obsessive intensity of the Spacemen or a strong personality of its own, the Darkside’s candle flickers without shedding any light.
Recorded as a quartet, the self-produced Melomania (for those without access to an OED, the title means “a mania for music”) documents Bassman’s second futile try at singing consistently in tune, accompanied by a narrowed dynamic range of stylish quiet and ragged loud, all slathered ineffectually in ’60s ambience. With no sign of the first album’s Doors fixation, “This Mystic Morning” does ape some of that group’s Los Angeles folk-rock contemporaries reasonably well. Ultimately, the Darkside’s incoherence, lack of conviction and threadbare compositional ideas go to show that a mania for music is nothing like a talent for it.