Wooden Shjips – West (2011)
…and then, in an act of reverence, they took their melodies, their intervals between notes, their rhythmic variation and burnt them, a sanctified offering to the great god of fuzz. And listeners looked down upon their offering, so burnt that none might partake. They smiled, nodded, and even bobbed their heads when the occasional mood struck it.
Such fuzz! Like rolling in the warm folds of scratchy bedding on a cold evening, the aural shag carpeting of the gods. On their third full-length, West, Wooden Shjips have broken great ground in amplifier maneuvering. They are now allowed to teach it on the graduate level, accredited, a part of the fuzz canon (not the sex act, the canonical canon) along with the bass line at the end of “Hot Burrito #2”, the brief sublimity of the Charlatans on “Codine“, the Spacemen 3.
This is genuine drug music, the strange halting mood shifts, short and seemingly unalterably cyclical shifts in contemplative moods, the distant sound of voices, the academic response to what hash must feel like. Rock music not made occult, but rather the occult trance inherent in the music brought to fore.
It pops and crackles. Mostly crackles. Seemingly obvious chord progressions – at least when chords change enough on the album to merit the word ‘progression’ – catch one by surprise because of the powers of hypnosis and consuming daze the album inserts the listener into, snug like crumpled wrappers in one’s pocket. This is the sound of power tools and buzz saws, slowed-down and made sensual.
Can melody and progression be replaced with swirl and reverb? Wooden Shjips think so, and I’m inclined to agree.
RIYL: Spacemen 3, Velvet Underground, Spiritualized, Charlatans, Nuggets