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Wooden Baby biography
WOODEN BABY is a late eighties side project from two OZRIC TENTACLES members, Merv PEPLER on drums and Joie HINTON on keyboards. It incorporates HAWKWIND-like space rock music combined with darker cold wave, gothic sounds of the 80's and a few oriental ambiances.

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WOODEN BABY discography

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WOODEN BABY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Stuck In The Mind-Cage
3.05 | 2 ratings
Forbidden Pastures
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Embalment by WOODEN BABY album cover Studio Album, 1990
4.00 | 2 ratings

Wooden Baby Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A complete space ritual

Sometimes appearances are misleading. Released one year earlier, "Forbidden Pastures", WOODEN BABY's previous tape, exhibited clear OZRIC TENTACLES influences. Furthermore, for this new cassette, Merv Pepler and Charlie invited two members of the well-known space rock group, the guitarist and leader Ed Wynne and the keyboardist Joie Hinten. So is the side-project turning into a pale copy of its elder brother? Not at all.

"Embalment" is the most personal and varied cassette by WOODEN BABY, as well as one of the strangest and eclectic space rock patchwork ever recorded. In between two decades, still mixing psychedelic / space rock with 80's cold wave and gothic ambiances, the compositions incorporates this time a few pre-techno sonorities that will further developed in the 90's. Therefore, this third opus is the duo's most electronic... but also its rockiest! The track-list consists in an important collection of short and medium-length tracks, including rearranged versions of titles from the previous cassettes, plus two 10 minutes long compositions. As a result, the atmosphere is constantly changing, the listener travels from a space-time location to another. Now open your mind and let the trip begin...

Side 1 is maybe the most eclectic. From the beginning, you know you're in for something special. "Birth" is short introduction to the spacey ethereal "Parallel Vortex", the entrance to a strange unknown quantum universe. Mysterious eerie xylophone bells, esoterism, and then robotic retro-futuristic ambiance... A very fine opening for such cassette! On the opposite, "Impossible Maze" is a HAWKWIND-like song with raging riffs and screaming vocals, however even more aggressive than the space warriors. This is nearly space punk! Nice and punchy, although a little repetitive. Then comes the house / early techno ramshackle "Bath - Scum", which foreshadows what Merv Pepler will be offering with his future band EAT STATIC. Again, cool but too monotonous. "Tammiz I" is a more concise version of the GONG-esque track "The Eyes of Tammuz" from "Forbidden Pastures", whereas "Weeping" is a short enchanting interlude and "Sherbert Lemons", a soothing electronic title in the style of 90's OZRIC TENTACLES. No time to rest, the growing Middle-Eastern-ish saturated pysch jam "It's Only Paranoia" reminds HAWKWIND's "You Shouldn't Do That" at times with its various percussions and sound effects. Truly one of the best tracks of the cassette, "False World" begins with a terrific trippy gothic opening and a catchy futuristic galaxy conquering melody. Mindblowing! This can easily compete with Captain Brock and co.'s best 80's material! More modern, "Flabby Abo" and its digeridoo immerses us in some strange mystical ethnic temple. "Immortal Souls" consists in a dark psyched-out electronic loop, a bit too lengthy, while "Light From A Nebula II" is a rearranged and better balanced version of the cosmic adventure "Light From A Nebula" from WOODEN BABY's first tape, "Stuck In The Mind-Cage".

Side 2 still holds several surprises. The atmospheric "Astral Highways" interlaces a saturated floydian guitar with floating synthesizer patterns. Cool. The Indian female vocalizations samples of "Darjeeling" reminds me ASHRA's minimalistic exercise "Twelve Samples" from "Walkin' the Desert", released one year earlier. However, the rest of the track differs, as it possesses gorgeous bass lines and alternates with cold wave-ish sections. Back to meditation with the slow "Bali Sun", a mysterious ritual mixing Indonesian and Japanese sonorities, and to retro science-fiction with the sequenced "Amniote Egg". Weirdness and fuzzy logic return with the experimental "Hiccup" and its discrete Egyptian theme. Fun but does not justify its 3 minutes duration. "City Of 1000 Suns II" is short piano revisit of "City Of 1000 Suns" from the first tape, whereas "Exorcism I" is a more concise and dynamic rearrangement of the spacey new-wave song "Exorcism of Anu" from "Forbidden Pastures". "Ominous Omness" concludes the short and medium-length tracks collection, its electric violin will let you lost in the depths of the cosmos. Now we can accost the two long ending titles. Fasten your seat belt. "Friday The 13th (Full Moon Fever)" is a rapid space synth metal instrumental jam, displaying an atmosphere la John Carpenter. Pulsating, frightening, raw, this is like escaping in the dark from an invisible threat. The perfect soundtrack to a 80's horror movie! The cassette finishes with the great energizing "Cocoon (Excerpt)", an incantatory futuristico-mystical theme, deep and mesmerizing. Violin, guitars, keyboards, ethnic instruments, everything is here. A powerful trance and a freaking good conclusion, well suited to end such a stellar patchwork, and completely in opposition with the ethereal ambient opening!

Wow! Despite some lengthy passages, "Embalment" is part of the most original and eclectic psychedelic / space rock releases that offers such a wide and uncommon variety of styles, even more than on "Stuck in the Mind-Cage"! Songs, instrumentals, short, medium, long tracks, space rock/metal/punk, retro-electronic sequences, ambient house, ethnic percussions, violin... A genuine trip into unknown galaxies. The surprise effect remains, while the approached music styles both cover the eighties and unveils future things to come in the nineties.

With its third and unfortunately last tape, WOODEN BABY just gave birth to undoubtedly one of the best space rock recording of the beginning of the 90's, released in a transitional time period when the very genre was about to renew itself with the second psychedelic and electronic revolutions.

Not the one to begin with, nonetheless essential for 80's HAWKWIND and OZRIC TENTACLES lovers!

 Forbidden Pastures by WOODEN BABY album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.05 | 2 ratings

Forbidden Pastures
Wooden Baby Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Pastures near the Ozrician fields

3.5 stars

Whereas WOODEN BABY's first tape, "Stuck in the Mind-Cage" shares only partial resemblances with OZRIC TENTACLES, which Merv Pepler just joined as a drummer, this second effort is this time more influenced by Ed Wynne's band. As before, "Forbidden pastures" still offers a wide variety and uncommon mix of 80's cold wave / gothic rock with 70's space prog, however now incorporating the typical "ambient trippy jungle" feel of GONG and their successors. Lasting 66 minutes, this cassette is also the duo's shortest in terms of duration.

You're about to enter a strange world with "Gestation Of A Koala Bear", introducing the relaxing and mystical "The Sound Of One Hand", quite in the OZRICs' style. The track then accelerates to turn into a darker and frightening atmosphere with keyboards and guitar, while the ending part goes to back to calm. Not bad but first section is too long. Again, "Wasps Feet" has a nice OZRIC-ian Middle-Eastern-ish texture and a touch of LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, although different. "Pump-Face" reminds the pulsating 80's HAWKWIND song "Angels of Death", while "Exocism Of Anu" is mesmerizing spacey new-wave. Original but a bit lengthy. Side 1 concludes with the strange experimental interlude "Gullet-Ache", and the GONG-esque "The Eyes Of Tammuz" and its Arabic clarinet.

Side 2 opens with the tape's best and most progressive track, the multidimensional "The Painted Smile". First beginning with an enigmatic electronic loop, this 7 minutes title features many changes as it turns to space rock with a pretty Hillagian guitar and then to an oppressive science-fiction tale. Excellent! Prepare to lose your landmarks with the pysched-out paranoid inner trip "Wading Gannets", and to be hypnotized by the "Table Of Existence". This trippy gothic composition in the vein of DEAD CAN DANCE's first opus is one of the best passages of the cassette. On the contrary, the ambient "Treading Air" is my least favorite with its a voice. Like an incantatory ritual, "Bombay Mix" assembles American Indian chants on Asian Indian sitar. Cool but not varied enough for 5 minutes. Fortunately, the ender "A Warm Sponge" is rather enjoyable. The first half consists in a cold wave song including a few special sound effects and variations, whereas the second half is more rocking 80's HAWKWIND.

"Forbidden Pastures" may be less original, strange, impacting and personal than WOODEN BABY's two other releases. Furthermore, it contains some lengthy moments. Nonetheless, the duo manages to keep its own identity and weirdness though their compositions, which seem to come from another dimension. These pastures are not forbidden, the inspiration and psychedelic trip, as well as exciting tracks, are still well present.

Recommended to fans of OZRIC TENTACLES, 80's HAWKWIND and space rock!

 Stuck In The Mind-Cage by WOODEN BABY album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.00 | 2 ratings

Stuck In The Mind-Cage
Wooden Baby Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

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!

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition.

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