Wooden Shjips

West

Stuff slips through the cracks on my end. Wooden Shjips isn’t a new band at all. They’ve got two full lengths and a whole grip of EP’s…and I’m just now digging into it. Despite my own ignorance, pagan psyche music deities smile upon me, as this newest full length is simply breathtaking.

For background, this San Fran unit has always been pretty DIY, but enlisting the engineering ear of Phil Manley, this is their first album recorded in a true blue studio, and instead of being constrained by it, West possesses a massive sound that’s completely enhanced by the in-house recording process.

I’m prone to describe it using some of the pre-ordained vocabulary already established (I mean, you’ve seen Such Hawks, Such Hounds right?) for bands like this. It’s unavoidable…but hear me out. West does rely on certain psyche-tropes to push it forward. Fuzzed out guitars, slow-mo riffing, ethereal loops and the occasional organ seeping through the salvo. West is a visiting, an homage to 60’s psychedelia space-rock bong-gospel, but only as it’s been filtered through the minimalist drone of robo-kraut rock, rendering it a dense and droning pastiche of deliberate hipness and hypnotic swagger (and the potential for a dorky Magic Schoolbus analogy…which I didn’t use).

“Black Smoke Rise” and “Crossing” build upon the percolating seesawing of Hawkwind’s “Master of the Universe,” the former rife with siren solos and a metal-clang and the latter a jiggling tambourine stomp sleigh-ride to the center of the sun. “Lazy Bones” betrays its title, an upbeat gallop through the painted Kurtwood Brothers canyon and “Home” the milennial riff offspring (riff-spring?) of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My,” squalling organs surrounding the plaintive homage. Highlights including the seven minute “Flight” a sprawling centerpiece built on a proto-Sabbath crawl that bubbles and meanders into full-blown planetary collapse, and “Rising,” a mewing creature raised in the collective closet of Dave Wyndorf and J Spaceman.

Phenomenal album, trance-inducing and sense-blowing (not just yr mind bro…). Fully formed, and capable of slipping into many a year-end top 10 list. Center of the Universe baby.

-Dylan Chadwick

Visit their Thrill Jockey artist page here (where you can also cop the album) and peep the crazy video for "Lazy Bones" below (by Black Dice)

Wooden Shjips - Lazy Bones from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

October 2nd, 2011