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Published: 2009/06/01
by Brian Robbins

Dos Wooden Shjips

Holy Mountain

The easy way out of describing Wooden Shjips sound is to compare them to classic Krautrock bands of the past (Kraftwerk, Neu!) or for you youngsters in the crowd, try Wilcos experiment with Spiders (Kidsmoke). But as I say, thats the easy way out; theres more going on here than that, boys and girls. And their latest self-produced release Dos finds the quartet confident and fearless in tackling its chosen path.

Make no mistake about it: this is not pre-programmed robo-rock. The Shjips play the living guts out of their instruments. Forget about samples and loops; this is the sound of sweat, flesh, and fingers. This stuff has as much to do with Quicksilver Messenger Service or Jorma and Jack leading the Airplane on a full-fledged freak-out as it does any of the above-mentioned bands. You can hear this music and latch onto it for its dog-with-a-bone trance pulse. But you can listen to it and pick up on the ebbs and flows of the band as they explore the far-flung territories of each chosen groove. Wooden Shjips is primarily an instrumental band; when there are vocals, theyre woven into the bands overall sound as another thread in the texture, rather than a featured moment.

Take the midpoint of the album, Down By The Sea: on the surface you have 10 minutes and 52 seconds of relentless head-nodding, shoulder-shrugging, butt-shaking groove. Looking to do nothing more than dance? There it is. Go for it. If you want to travel further (Furthur?), however, the road awaits. Did you ever wonder what it would have sounded like if Howlin Wolf and Creedence Clearwater Revival had dropped acid together? Well, this is it. Down By The Sea starts with a solid Smokestack Lightning-style bass/drums backbone accented with midnight keys. The reverb-cloaked ghost of Jim Morrison glides through with a vocal thats come and gone before you know it, making room for the guitar to lurch into the mix just shy of the 3-minute mark. Tension builds; the sound gets deeper and draws you in, tumbling/twisting/turning while the bass and drums provide solid footing. In the wrong hands, this could be scary stuff – this is what it wouldve been like to ignore John Fogertys warnings in Run Through The Jungle but the Shjips are here and its okay. In the end, you may be soaked and shaken, but youre all right. And an hour or two later, when you find that bass line creeping back into your brain, youre going to want some more of this.

Aw, go ahead its all natural. Its good for ya.

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