Wooden Shjips - Back To Land [VINYL]

by Miz DeShannon Rating:7 Release Date:2013-11-11

Wooden Shjips' fourth album Back to Land has already been compared to all the psych-folk-rock greats: The Doors, The Velvet Underground, Jesus & Mary Chain. Actually, Wooden Shjips absolutely have their own signature sound. One or two hits from The Velvet Underground may be referenced, quite obviously, but choosing to write music in such a genre means these are the influences which will be boundless, certain tracks making easy pickings to take forward.

 

It's absolutely audible on this album that the band have dug out their old record collection for some inspiration – rather than the spacey drone of 'West', songs like the album's title track have a whirring likeness to 'Touch Me', for instance. It doesn't mean that the band actually sound like what they've listened to.

 

Signature fuzz oozes through most tracks on Back to Land, as do whirring Hammond organ sounds, but layered with dreamy guitar harmonies and melodic vocals. Tracks like 'These Shadows' are easy on the ear. Contrasting with this, but without losing sight of their original sound, 'Ghouls' and 'In the Roses' are as upbeat, frantic and repetitive as the formula Ripley Johnson transfers to side-project Moon Duo. There seems to be less formulaic writing on Back to Land; more thought, less rush.

 

Some fantastic background samples on 'Other Stars' and precision time-keeping on the drums from Omar Ahsanuddin means they've not lost the hyper-monotony they've always loved. There's slight disappointment when 'Servants' kicks in – it's almost the same as West opener 'Black Smoke Rise'. Consider, though, the type of music Wooden Shjips play. Their kind of psychedelic music works on the same premise as punk – minimal chords, total simplicity, lots of noise – so to get an endless amount of structural variety could be a lot to ask for after four albums.

Their music remains heavy on the fuzz pedal, regardless of the inclusion of delicate acoustic guitar on last track 'Everybody Knows', which mixes up the album nicely. There are more layers, twee vocals and a different kind of dreaminess perfectly mastered.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the written similarities with Led Zeppelin III that go beyond the likeness of the cover. Wooden Shjips are on album number four, and their music is quite different to that bluesy romanticism of 1970 Page and Plant. Back to Land gives off what West lacked in some places – the fact that this band really have a good head-nodding groove. Where West shot off on a sonic journey of space-rock, with huge similarities to the likes of genuine space-heads Acid Mothers Temple, Back to Land does what it says on the tin.

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