Heaviosity is coming back. Every few years, there’s a revival of blissed-out drone and heavy psyche (think The Warlocks et al. a few years back), although it never really goes away, more just comes in and out of, if not fashion – it’s never really particularly fashionable or unfashionable per se – then prevalence. It’s almost certainly a side-affect of the current shoegaze revivalism, as well as the recent renewed interest in/awareness of Krautrock, and even the ever-increasing popularity of the likes of Fuck Buttons – layers of trippy noise are clearly where it’s at.
Wooden Shjips are one of the acts at the forefront of this renewed space rock scene, and they’re pretty damn good at it. Vol. 2 is a collection of singles, but it hangs together remarkably well, cohesive in terms of over-all feel, as well as sonic characteristics. And feel is quite important to this kind of music. It’s the kind of music that’s summed up by Spacemen 3’s well-worn album-title and thus life-catchphrase, Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To. Having said that, while it’s infused with lysergic overtones, you most certainly don’t have to be on drugs to enjoy it.
Opener ‘Loose Lips’ brings to mind The Doors, probably because of the prominent use of organ, the vocal style, and the fact it sounds like we all think the Sixties did (although it’s more likely that for the most part it probably sounded like Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones). The album features two covers Neil Young’s ‘Vampire Blues’ and Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Contact’. Unsurprisingly (but in the best possible way), neither particularly resemble the originals, the former bringing to mind Suicide and the latter being too much of an extended psyche wig-out to be especially close to Gainsbourg’s Gallic sophistication, although there a certain icy coolness about Wooden Shjips’ version, as well as a very definite hint of NEU!.
If the likes of The Black Angels, White Hills, LOOP, 13th Floor Elevators or any of the other aforementioned acts turn you on, then Vol. 2 definitely will too. All that’s left to do after you’ve let that happen is to tune in and drop out… Drift.. off… into… the… ether…