Wooden Shjips - Shrinking Moon For You (Self-released 10")
I'm not sure if this is actually called "Shrinking Moon For You" or if it's self-titled, but that's what the name of the A side is so I guess it makes sense. And I'm not sure what gives with the absence of artwork either...I thought I had just gotten a promo copy at first but nope, it's the real deal. I think a neat thing to do would be if everybody drew their own art on the LP sleeve as they listened to the album and then we all got together at a kind of summit and shared our art and played foosball together. But I'm not bringing the chips.
To date I've heard lots and lots of praise for this mysterious Wooden Shjips outfit. They've got a dot com and even a Myspace but a severe lack of concrete info. Is this a band? A solo project? A dessert topping? As we in the industry say: IDFK. Alls I know is they had (have?) a 7" out on the Sick Thirst label and they gave away the first 300 copies of this 10", apparently. And all my best friends seem to like them. So...that's the summary.
From the very start I had these guys pegged as some kind of wispy free-folk outfit. I'm pretty sure that's because Wooden reminds me of Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice and Ships reminds me of the last Current 93 record and the extra J in Ships reminds me of Dr. J, Julius Irving, so there you have it - Wooden Shjips. I'm somewhat happy/somewhat disappointed to reveal that this isn't at all the case (although the jury's still out on it being a solo vehicle for Dr. J). About the only thing WS have in common with the aforementioned acts is a loose affiliation with psychedelia, however you wish to define it. The title track takes up all 8 of the A side's minutes and there's this batty and fuzzy guitar riff looping over and over again, cradling your head in its bosom and weaving all sorts of imaginary playgrounds for your mind to romp in. It's bouncy, but not obnoxious. Kinda Comets on Fire all crossed up with the Boredoms and with a spike of vintage krauty wherewithal like yr boys in Food Brain and Les Rallizes. So you've got the endless riff, and you've also got a pretty strict drum beat buried somewhere in there and visitations along the way courtesy vocals (both female and male I think?), some tambourine a-shaking, and what sounds to me like some scorchy keyboard runs. I hate to drag out the orange/banana thing but it's definitely like the more layers I peel away, the closer I get to its juicy, juicy ceneter. Repeated listens = a must.
Two songs occupy the flip, a 2-minute one called "Death's Not Your Friend" and a 3-minute one called "Space Clothes". First one is definitely more "song" than the former, with a keyboard riff that nags at my mind in a way I just can't shake...Byron Coley says Suicide but I'm going the obvious route and saying "Baba O'Riley" only much better because really now, fuck the Who. It's catchy and actually features semi-coherant verses delivered in the kind of drawl honed by yr boys in...Kyuss? I told you it was a weird one. And if I didn't I'm telling you now. Closer is way bizarre in comparison: droning synth, vocal samples in reverse, and birdsong. Sun Ra jamming along with the Conet Project? Okay maybe that's a bit of a stretch but...no fuck you, it isn't! You'll believe me once you hear it. But you'll probably hear something totally different...and that's not your fault, that's just the kinda power this Black Betty wields.
Once I got over the slight jilt this record gave me when it destroyed everything I thought I knew about it, I fully fell into its clutches. Maybe it's because I'm tired but that first side just has the kind of groove you never ever want to pull your ears out of, for real real. And the other side is no slouch, save for the last cut which is kind of a throwaway when you really get down to it. So then...7"? 10"? You know what's next boys, or girls, or things (or any of those in singular form). Grab a slice of this today and join me in crying aloud: "holy shjit!" (please forgive me).