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Wooden Shjips - Wooden Shjips CD (album) cover


Wooden Shjips


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.75 | 15 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The name of the band reads like a lysergic slip of the tongue, appropriately for a psychedelic quartet from San Francisco, a city that knows a thing or two about Acid Rock. And their self-titled debut EP, released in 2007, set the pattern for just about every piece of music the band would ever produce: a willfully repetitive rhythm; a cortex-melting electric guitar solo; and a lead singer locked inside an echo chamber, sounding not unlike a Krautrock Jim Morrison.

This early effort is a little more inhibited than later recordings, almost as if the band members were concerned about losing their (musical and/or psychic) way on their first trip together. The objective no doubt was to bring the listener into a natural state of altered consciousness, using two of the strongest drugs on the legal market: reverb and repetition, with a kick of feedback as a chaser. The sound of Erik Johnson's cosmic guitar can be a hallucinogen all by itself, capable of some truly warped contortions even in a song showing a semblance of melody ("Blue Sky Bends"). But there's a lesson here the band had yet to assimilate: when aiming for trippy, don't settle for just groovy.

These aren't virtuoso players by any means, and their music is better that way. You have to admire the almost military discipline of the rhythm section, including organist Nash Whalen, who to his credit apparently never learned how to master his instrument. Listen as they lock horns over the slow, motorik album-closer "Shine Like Suns": ten relentless minutes of throbbing one-note minimalism guaranteed to bring your mind to a complete halt, not an altogether bad goal these days. The fade at each end, into and out of a jam in progress, lends the song a narcoleptic likeness to NEU!'s "Hallogallo", in a similar manner giving listeners a ten-minute aural preview of infinity.

The Shjips would gain a reputation for playing a style of road music suited to empty, arrow-straight desert highways. Their first time behind the wheel finds them driving more or less between the lines, but poised to jump the musical traffic barrier at any moment.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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