Style: Psychedelic Rock
Release Date: 3 Dec 2021
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This album, which, as you might expect, is Weedpecker's fourth, was quite the surprise for me. The band name strongly suggests that this is going to be psychedelic rock of some sort—shock horror, it is—but also that it's probably stoner rock in the more modern American style and that's really not what this is. I hear a little stoner rock here and there, especially on the chugging opener, No Heartbeat Collective, but mostly the influences seem to be from a lot earlier than Kyuss. Even on that song, there's plenty of Hawkwind to be found and plenty of the Who too, in the power chords and the sweep.
It's the vocals of Wyro that feel most unusual to me. They're high in pitch but low in the mix. While they do get emphatic at points, they often float rather than soar. They remind me most of the late sixties hippie era, but British more than American, even though this band hail from Poland. Once we get past that opener, this became Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd for me, an approach that frames the sound of much of the rest of the album. The question that I kept answering myself was where other influences got added to that base sound.
I didn't detect any on Fire Far Away or The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts, at least on a first listen, but there are definitely some on The Trip Treatment. The guitar here gets so liquid that it seems like a hybrid of that early Floyd sound with soul and funk and disco, very American sounds to be in something so British. Unusual Perceptions is very nice from the outset, almost saccharine sweet, swimming through a syrupy sugar solution, and it's not surprising at all to find it sounding like the Beatles. There's a lot of pop music in this sound, even if it manifests more as rock, and most of it is half a century old, even if presented in a new way.
There are more modern influences here, layered onto the older ones. Big Brain Monsters caught me out with that until I realised that there's King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in that one and I started to hear them all over the place, even on songs like Fire Far Away that had felt so Floydian until that realisation. King Gizzard are certainly there on Endless Extensions of Good Vibrations too, which is edgier and delivered with more emphasis, with late chugging that hearkens back to the opener. Everything comes around in the end.
What I found on a first listen that was underlined by a second is that I like how Weedpecker find a sound they like and milk it without it ever seeming like they're playing a song. There may be some sort of traditional structure buried deep under the layers of psychedelia and effects, down there with the vocals, but I couldn't tell on half these songs. I just know they sound good, a combination of instruments brought together in a melodious and palatable way that might coalesce into some recognisable form under the influence of the exactly right amount of mind expanding drugs.
In fact, much of the album could be described as a mellow jam. Occasionally, what we hear finds its way into something more recognisable as a song and then jam in a more traditional fashion. The pinnacle of this is easily the album closer, Symbiotic Nova, which builds gloriously and rocks out in memorable fashion during the second half. This one often reminded me of Silver Tightrope, a song by Armageddon, that short lived project that was the last for the Yardbirds's Keith Relf, but this is less focused.
I think how I'm going to think of this is less as a set of songs on an album and more as some sort of musical installation that floats around a room like a cloud, ever changing but never different, and we walk through it to experience what it has to tell us. Clearly I should check out earlier albums by Weedpecker, inevitably titled Weedpecker, II and III. I want to see if this approach has been in play all along.
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