White Manna – Dune Worship (Holy Mountain)
CD/ LP/ DL
Psychedelic space rockers White Manna‘s sophomore album picks up where their brilliant debut left off. Steven Fanning is utterly converted.
White Manna’s eponymous debut album was one of the surprises of last year. It crept in from nowhere, my own personal discovery of it coming from the recommendation of a friendly chap in a record store and ever since it’s been a regular tenant of the turntable. They didn’t go entirely unnoticed, however, the non-album track Kingdom Come being featured on Sonic Cathedral’s superb Psych For Sore Eyes split 7” release. It’s been a short wait since then for Dune Worship, White Manna’s second album, which picks up nicely where their debut left off. Inevitable comparisons will rest with stoned droners Wooden Shjips, who occupy a similar berth in modern psychedelia, and the excellent Hookworms, another band whose debut last year and inclusion on Psych For Sore Eyes has seen their profile rocket.
Having played the record a fair few times now, it seems to me that to break it down track by track somehow takes the magic out of Dune Worship. It’s a long flowing song collection – a swooping progression through delay, fuzz, distortion and ringing chords – an album which acts better as a total listening experience than by simply dipping a toe in here and there. Each song is unique, yet the album really comes together as a body of work than as simply a collection of parts.
Transformation opens Dune Worship in smooth, swirly style, the vocals low in the mix and almost hidden by the ringing guitars and keys which swoop and spin about until smothered by the solo. By the time you reach the bassy Solar Returns you’ve been ushered into the flow and come to rest, beached on a silence that allows you to contemplate and wonder just where the last glorious 43 minutes went to.
White Manna are a genuine gem, still bubbling below the mainstream that would be the ruin of them if ever they truly broke into it. There’s a grace to their music which comes from the uninhibited freedom to just write and create and it is this freedom that permeates every song. It’s music with the shackles off – unrestrained – the vision of the band becoming the experience of the listener, doing exactly what it should do. It’s a release from the drudgery of everyday guitar pop and as 2013 draws to a close, so White Manna seem like they’re just beginning.
All words by Steven Fanning. More work by Steven Fanning on Louder Than War can be found in the author’s archive.
Follow Steven on Twitter @bigtearecords.