Singles Compilation – Volume 1
These curators of cosmic groove have been on our radar for a few months now – admittedly we were a tad late to them but hearing both their limited Sub Pop 7 inch ’loose lips’ (see singled out – missive 155) and their recently released self titled debut full length for Holy Mountain the imprint who to date have sneaked out some of the best mind erasing sounds around by the likes of the Shining Path (whose limited 7 inch for Trensmat is still getting hammered here), om, Six Organs of Admittance and Birds of Maya to name but four from a head trancing roster.
‘Volume 1’ marks the official release of the bonus 6 track CD that was given away free in limited quantities with their aforementioned debut full length though on this occasion bolstered by the addition of the sub twelve minute epic ‘Sol ‘07’ in place of the radio edit version of ’dance, California’.
Hailing from the same San Franciscan scene that had us recently swooning with the arrival of the debut 12 inch from the Lumerians (itself an essential slice of mind evaporating mantra like boogie), Wooden Shjips are the Doors to the Black Angels 13th Floor Elevators who delight in intermittently fusing their aural tapestries with subtle washes of drone ambience, fuzz, space grooves, shimmering psyche and elements of krautrock.
This set gathers together those long out of print early outings by the band that now command silly money on the online auction sites, either given away free by the band or pressed up in ridiculously limited numbers on their own A Sick Thirst imprint the inclusion of this trio of releases ‘Shrinking Moon for you’ (10”), ‘dance, California’ (7”) and ‘SOL ‘07 (7” – or to give it its proper title ‘Summer of Love’) are the first time (I think I’m right in saying) that all three of these gems have been issued on CD in their entirety to include both lead and flip sides.
Falling somewhere between drug induced states of meditation and shade wearing oblivion, the talismanic Wooden Shjips tripwire their sound with sheens of swamp like haze and out there bliss, whether they be tendered by hypnotic mantras or wired with feedback struts the outcome is always the same – you just cannot help feeling that you’ve unwittingly experienced an acid induced cosmic voyage styled flashback as though the very CD or the grooves at least have been ingrained with some potent LSD strain deliberately treated to pass on contact and mainline straight through the senses. ‘Shrinking moon for you‘ opens the set – a sprawling 8 minute bluesed out freak beat beauty blessed with a gridlocked groove over which showers of fraying squalls of sun touching white noise sonics shimmer and drench – that all said and done to me at least has all the imagined markings of classic era Jefferson Airplane grinding down and dirty alongside the mighty Hawkwind. The strobe flickering ‘Death’s not your friend’ steps up to the plate next proving that when they have a mind to these dudes can out frug out with the best of them when it comes to psychedelised spiked garage, barely making it passed the two minute mark this tasty little monochromatic moocher freewheels into similar territories explored previous by the likes of Southall Riot though repeat listens give up that unerring desire to dig out your old slabs of Suicide wax whilst simultaneously re-imagining them being given the barest of lo-fi production treatments at the hands of the Mummies.
Backward looping cycles and abstract sound manipulations are the order of the day on the studio tomfoolery applied to the binary drone sequence that is the minimalist lunar transmission ‘space clothes’ which I don’t know about you but certainly had us of a mind that nods where being made in the general direction of both Steve Reich and the early aural territories and frequency bending language as explored by Sonic Boom’s EAR alter ego. Those thinking ’dance, California’ has some loose connotations to the Beach Boys idyllist image of sun, sea, sand and sex – think again – assuming a krautrock trajectory this intergalactic cruise machine provides for a tripping mind altering experience akin to having Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Amon Dull II all in the same studio cooking up a hallucinatory brew with the Velvets applying the masterstroke shade induced coolness. It’s attending flip ’clouds over earthquake’ is a seismic fuzz induced slab of shoe shuffling space rock lacerated by wiring psychosis laced beatnik riffs being cradled by the incessant mind bleaching numb of a locked grooved underpin. Which leaves the monumental and lysergic tipped Doors-esque ‘SOL’07’ to wrap up proceedings. A fried and wired fringe parting cranium caning free forming freak out blessed with vintage sourced riffs ripped straight from the 60’s obviously imported via a time travelling tab taking magic bus that frankly leaves you ga ga in its wake. Your next trip – if you haven’t already taken it yet – is to partake in the primal mantra saturated smoky opines of their self titled debut full length.
aired fall 2007