Tuesday 11 January 2011

White On White

Here it is, a musical battles to the death (in my warped mind at least!). And here we have two bands whose monikers revel in the existence of all colours...er, have 'white' in their title, White Hills and White Rainbow, or should I say White Stag (White Rainbow is joined here by Stag Hare). Both bands using white as an adjective, both dealing in their own brand of sprawling numbers...how do they shape up?

Its widely acknowledged that Sonic Masala loves White Hills. Their self titled album on Thrill Jockey last year was ace, and their double billing with stablemates Pontiak in March at the Lumianire was stunning aural assaults as wave after wave of psychedelic sonics were forced down our throats. So its weird that Ive had Oddity II: Night Scene On Mill Mountain (on Drug Space Records) for so long without covering it here. I guess what with the manic ending of 2010 and the influx of releases at my disposal it somehow filtered to the bottom of the pack. Still, here it is...

And, well, Oddity II is a series of rarities and outtakes from various sources. 3 synth experiments, an alternate take on Hawkwind’s ‘Be Yourself’, a 27 minute remix… Its all a bit for purists at first glance, even if the Hawkwind cover is pretty blistering (though murkily recorded). Yet it is ‘Heads On Fire’, an outtake from their excellent White Hills album, and a slow, burbling untitled space jam that makes this release worth chasing down. These two track remind you once and for all why Dave W is a psych genius in the making, and will have you salivating at what he has in store for us.

White Stag is a different beast, but still a fearsome monster to behold. A collaboration of any kind can be anywhere from transcendental to the more likely occurrence of too many cooks. Yet White Stag (on Marriage Records) is a true cross section of White Rainbow's ambient electronic guitar montages and Stag Hare's tribal/hippy drones. The release is only 2 songs long, each song extended over 14 minutes, and it really isnt enough. The A side, 'Shhoopeey Shoop Mega House Remix' is a remix of a jam they had (which you can get in its 'original' form as a digital copy) and perfectly exemplifies the ambient propulsion that this collaboration brought forth, then cut in swathes of guitar interplay, drum sample loops and choral vocals into a menagerie of shimmering otherness. 'Driftwood Fresh Swells/Shells' is the B side, and it complements the other track perfectly, creating a oscillating dream swell of ocean floor incandescence. There is so much working within each track that it is a miracle how it all meshes together into the higher-plane behemoth that White Stag inevitably is.

So, two albums offering various stages of psych. One offers tantalising glimpses into the future, whilst the other is a work of art, fully formed, and the perfect launching pad into the cosmos.

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