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Wooden Baby - Stuck In The Mind-Cage CD (album) cover


Wooden Baby

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars Psychedelic-electro-gothico-mystical-garage-space cold wave

Welcome to a pocket universe where styles have no distinct boundaries, to a new dimension where your familiar landmarks have disappeared, welcome to an uncharted territory of highly trippy music.

The first interesting fact about "Stuck In The Mind-Cage" is its release date. The 80's were a desolated but transitional time period for psychedelic / space rock, the heydays of the long progressive suites or freak-out jams of the past decades were long gone, while the second electronic revolution of the 90's was to arrive years later. Only a few bands were proposing something new in the genre, merging their influences with the musical approaches and sonorities of the eighties. If OZRIC TENTACLES and THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS come to mind, WOODEN BABY should not be forgotten either.

Hard to describe, Merv Pepler and Charles Daniel's compositions are really nice and varied, as if GONG or HAWKWIND has made (wooden?) babies with DEAD CAN DANCE or THE CURE, during their gothic / cold-wave, eras. Despite Merv will later join the OZRICs, their music is not entirely similar. Darker, more synthetic, the duo's tracks rather offer a meditative, inner experience than immersing the listener in a flourishing ambient jungle. Less complex, rich and improvisational, but growing and yet very accessible. Furthermore, this is not quite comparable to Merv's future side-project, the pre-trance band EAT STATIC. Prepare to free your mind from your cage...

Side 1 is nearly perfect. "The Birth Of Venus" is a slow hallucinated electronic title, whereas "The Birds", more aggressive and futuristic, sounds like good 80's HAWKWIND. The gloomy and gothic "Embryo" is a trippy version of an hypothetical song from DEAD CAN DANCE's debut album. Terrific! "Walk The Ruins" alternates hazy psychedelic impressions la TIM BLAKE with faster rhythmic passages, while the mystical "Tutan Khamen Walks" makes great use of 70's HAWKWIND-esque electronic sound effects. Although a bit lengthy, "The Cellar" is my favorite passage from the cassette. This mid-tempo hypnotic and spacey dark wave with the right amount of raging accelerations is just a perfect follow-up. Mindblowing! After all this, the sequenced "Time Must Have A Stop", the well-named, arrives as a welcomed contemplative pause.

Side 2 is also very good but not as remarkable, as it contains a few useless moments. The first one is "Greek Stash". Completely unexpected by the listener, totally out of place, this is just a messing around the Sirtaki dance from the famous "Zorba the Greek" movie. Not interesting. Back to meditation with "Top Of The Tree", a slow-paced title, and to retro science-fiction with the short "City Of 1000 Suns" and its ice melancholic synthesizer waves and guitar. Longest track of the cassette, "End Of The Pier" extends the mystical experience. Not bad, however these 10 minutes appear a little flat and monotonous compared to the rest. A heroic spacey journey is about to start with "The Light From The Nebula" and the dynamic "Execution", a very nice cold wave song. On the opposite, "Dance Of The Goober" is a quite playful and strange interlude, again not really belonging here... Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for this interruption, we can now continue our trip aboard HAWKWIND spaceways with "Burning The Witch" - with a few turbulences though - and with our captain, a distant parent from TIM BLAKE piloting "Pawns Of Nulla". We're now entering Ethereality with a "Journey Through The Fallopian Tubes", a pretty cool synthesizer sequenced title, reminding the 80's German progressive electronic SOFTWARE's early albums. Nonetheless, the arrival is ruined by "Eating Sprouts" and its stupid vocalizations. It's a pity the cassette ends with such a... "track". Just skip it, the previous one works very well as a conclusion.

Of course, as this was only released in cassette, the sound quality is not pefect. Furthermore, these 88 minutes contains a few lengthy passages or songs that could have been removed. But trust me, you don't hear this kind of music that every day...

Contrarily to what its name may suggest, "Stuck In The Mind-Cage" is not stuck in pre-defined schemes at all. Very original, refreshing, trippy, gloomy, futuristic, the palette of atmospheres created is quite wide and will grandly nourish your imagination.

Fans of retro-futuristic psychedelic / space rock, 80's HAWKWIND, TIM BLAKE, or early THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, but also of gothic and cold wave bands should definitely check it out.

Free your mind from the established musical genres cages!

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Posted Thursday, February 9, 2017 | Review Permalink

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