Mystery Tape EP (Lefse Records, 06.2010)
For: High Country, Wooden Shjips, Emeralds
Byline: Blissed-out, wooly drone-psych from Denver, CO. containing one of the best singles of the year. See below.
Greetings from the Keystone state! I am in Troy, PA visiting my wife's family for the week. Crawf is holding down the fort so I am going to be brief. But I just couldn't wait to get this off my chest. Do we have a treat for you in the way of a stellar EP from one of Denver's most distinguished (in terms of the sheer amount of semi-mainstream media gushing) export in the last couple of years.
The surprisingly long EP, five songs at thirty minutes, is split between three nomadic, psych-drone compositions that bleed into each other. A sort of emulsified poultice made out of rainbow blood and dirt. Woodsman is all murky tones, distorted feedback loops conjured out swirling guitar drones. Vocals, when present, are buried deep within the troths of infinite waves of analog warmness. Side A holds a truly magical moment for me, all the quasi-spiritual imagery aside, "When The Morning Comes" is a hot contender for best single of the year in 2010. Starting with a rocksteady 4-4 time signature and some Enigma-like tribal singing, a wash of noise comes rumbling across the headphones slowly, like watching a thunderstorm gather over a prarie, until it envelops all sound, sucking noise from every possible outlet until the absolute breaking point. When it breaks, it breaks like a levee of creative possibility. The quartet breaks out in just about every direction. The "Return To Innocence" shouting intensifies, the drums break into a deeply hypnotic groove, and guitars swirl, double back on themselves, layer feedback upon no-input distortion laden passages, with some Tone Loc-style vinyl scratches thrown in for good measure. Holy wow, what a great song.
The record's latter half and bulk of the album is a slightly more psychedelic affair, as much as I hate using that word. But when I say "psychedelic" I don't mean some lazy, journalistic term used to describe something hazy and free-floating, I use it to tie this album into the timeline of rock-and-roll itself. With obvious references to their Kraut idols, "Balance" and "Smells Like Purple" are instrumental long players that utilize the standardized tools within the rock-and-roll garage kit. Anchored by a heavy rhythm section, guitars and weird sampled noises are set loose like a 16 year old behind a wheel, with just about the same sense of reckless wonder. Deep washes of Pink Floyd, Amon Düül, and Can appear on the last, and triumphantly placed, side B.