Wooden Shjips

Back to Land

Written by: BV on 15/01/2014 14:06:58

Wooden Shjips might not be a band which you’ve encountered before – perhaps, if you’ve been lucky, you’ve stumbled into a festival tent or some underground venue and danced like a frenzied madman to their highly monotonous fuzz-excursions, basked in their psychedelic visuals. If not, well then I’d reckon you’ve been missing out. With brilliant albums like their self-titled debut and “West” in their back-catalogue, one might indeed call them a force to be reckoned with on the psychedelic scene. With “Back to Land”, the band’s newest venture, one might even go as far as to say that they are finally living fully up to the potential displayed on previous outings.

Opening with the fuzzy drone of the title track, the sound is instantly recognizable for those who have previously been exposed to Wooden Shjips. As front-man Ripley Johnson’s fuzzy drone-riffs make up the foundation alongside the simplistic drumming of Omar Ahsanuddin and the groovy basslines of Dusty Jermier, keyboardist Nash Whalen provides the melodic breathers in the form of simple, albeit also repetitive, lead-lines. Sprinkle a set of almost unintelligible, heavily echoing vocals on top and you’ve got yourself a minimalist vehicle of fuzzed out kraut-garage-psych rock.

With “These Shadows”, Wooden Shjips take a turn for the slightly more melancholic – placing an added emphasis on the shimmering lead lines that can also be pulled from Johnson’s highly aggressive fuzz-guitar. The slightly melancholic, fairly low-key setting proves to be quite welcome on the album as there is a sort of added focus on the vocals. Granted, they still seem quite unintelligible but that’s not really the point. The point of it is rather the mood which can be set by these mellow, echoing pieces of vocal stylings – the lyrics take a backseat to that as they are really of secondary importance when it comes to setting a mood in this psychedelic world of Wooden Shjips.

I’d usually hate to admit it, but there are points of the album which I tend to find a bit too repetitive for my own personal taste. “Servants”, for instance, has a great riff that lures you in almost instantaneously. However, as the track progresses on to last for 6+ minutes I find that my patience is slowly being tested. Note that I have experienced Wooden Shjips live and found no hassles with lengthy monotony but as is the case with most live shows, there is also an added experience to absorb. With album tracks, like this one, the experience can soon be too ‘one-dimensional’ as you lack the visual element – in this case four strange guys standing in front of a heavily psychedelic, bubbling mural of kaleidoscopic visuals. Without it, the music may then eventually lose some of the power that initially let it have the relevance to go on for 6 minutes.

However, with that said, these worries are quite miniscule when all is said and done and I can honestly say that “Back to Land” is, by a long shot, the band’s strongest outing yet.

8

Download: Back to Land, These Shadows, Other Stars, Ruins
For the fans of: Moon Duo, The Black Angels, White Hills
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.11.2013
Holy Mountain


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