In retrospect West was a transition album. Back to Land feels a more confident recording with more purposiveness. The production is sharp and clear, and for those who liked the slightly sludgy production of earlier Wooden Shjips recordings (which matched the music) fear not. It matches the sharper, more assertive playing, especially the guitar work on show. And while Back to Land doesn't change the mixture too much, there is a more song-focused approach which also works here. The splendid These Shadows has an especially melancholy, bluesy atmospheric with some lovely, clear and clear guitar work, and vocals more upfront than before. Everything is sharper: there is no formless noodling, and while there are no extended instrumental wigouts (which I miss) the overall sense is that of a confident band really delivering here with a verve and tightness which is exciting and delightful. This is very good indeed and if the upcurve gets followed later on down the line, this band is going to gain an awful lot of followers from here on in.
it is seldom i write reviews about anything on this site and yet i want to about this release. i heard it by wandering into the oldest record shop in the world (cardiff) as it was playing. liked what i heard and subsequently bought a copy from the great staff there. i love the happy accidents like this.
this album is very polished and apparently written and recorded in just 11 days. the immediate sound reminded me of the drones of the band Suicide, the space of Hawkwind and a whole host of experimental psychedelia thrown in for the mix.
the album is relatively short with only 8 songs/sounds. nevertheless those 8 will make an impact. immediate listening will draw you to repeat play.
it pays to visit your local independent record shop i have found out. i have missed doing such a thing as there is no choice in Swansea. really! naming no names. this is why i have chosen to find things far cheaper online than be ripped off anymore.
so all in all this was such a lucky find for me. i would highly recommend you searching for selected songs via a search engine check, take a listen and get yourself a copy. to own the physical copy and its artwork is well worth it.
i hope this review will prompt people to check this album out.
The first thing that strikes you is the 'dressing' the CD comes in - VERY reminiscent of my original vinyl copy of "Led Zeppelin 3" and its 'Hipgnosis' designed cover, which was clearly an inspiraton. The same 'psychedelia' influenced type of imagery peeking through circular cut outs in the outer slipcase. This one doesn't rotate though.
However, the music contained is less 'Zep' and more 'Hawkwind'/Kraut-rock influenced. From the first track it is evident that the production here is clearer and sharper, the individual instruments and vocals far more distinct. There is less of the (admittedly quite satisfying) sludgy mashed up sound of the earlier albums. The material is, I feel, also generally more structured and melodic, lighter in tone, and has become more similar to Ripley's other venture, Moon Duo. I do particularly love the first (title) track, and there is nothing on here that I do not like. I am certain that fans of earlier albums will appreciate this collection, unless you have a particular affection for the more murky production.
This album works so well for me because of its powerful simplicity. There's a refreshing lack of complexity in every track. Simple chord structures, bass lines, organ and drums. No surprise that it was recorded lock, stock and barrel in 11 days. The production is crystal clear thus suiting my taste perfectly. A previous reviewer suggested that it might appeal to those who like The Velvet Underground and Hawkwind. I agree, every time I play it I think of VU and ironically I'm not a big fan however I'm thinking I ought to revisit their music. The CD sleeve is all paper (card). No plastic, which is a good thing imo however the inner sleeve is difficult to remove from the outer sleeve. A minor frustration................................No, actually it's B***dy annoying. Whoops, forgot to say, there's lots of mighty fine guitar contributions by Ripley Johnson.