Wooden Shjips - Wooden Shjips
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Wooden Shjips
Wooden Shjips

Having released a couple sold-out 10" records, Wooden Shjips now make their full-length debut on the Holy Mountain label with this self-titled release. The quartet plays a highly-repetitive style of stoner psych rock music, and influences seem to be as varied as The Doors and Hawkwind, with contemporaries like Kinski and other fuzzy space rockers close by. With five songs that run just over thirty minutes in length, it's both a fairly short album, and at the same time feels much longer than it should.

The essence of the release is that the group finds a rhythm and locks into it for an entire song, while occasionally adding echo-laden vocals and some squeals of guitars. Wooden Shjips also embrace a somewhat lo-fi recording philosophy, so it's not uncommon to hear bursts of guitar noise crackle the mix or completely drown out everything else as they wail. Really, that's about how the first several tracks on the album unfold. "We Ask You To Ride" coasts along on a three note bass line while drums keep cracking along underneath as squealing organs and guitars take turns overwhelming things. About halfway through, some Morrison-esque vocals come in, but the song never goes anywhere, content to keep plugging away with the same dynamics before fading out.

In terms of construction, both "Losin' Time" and "Lucy's Ride" work in pretty much the same way, except the former rocks a more fuzzed-out rock feel while the latter takes things down a notch into a bit more of a desert expanse drug trip with a bit more open space around everything. Of all the tracks, closer "Shine Like Suns" is the most effective, using up ten minutes in a much more effective way that the songs that came before it. Again, the formula is somewhat the same, but the group at least manages to tap into a more layered, almost Spaceman 3-style drone and texture fest that feels like it's actually building towards something as it progresses. If you're looking for motorik-flavored rock jams that dip into improvy spaces, your best bet is still Can. Wooden Shjips might yet churn out another gem in the future, but this full length debut feels entirely too bland.

rating: 5.510
Aaron Coleman 2007-10-18 21:26:13