Sometimes there’s no other way to say it: Stoner rock. Among some bands who play it, the genre is spurned, and with decent reason. It’s a commercial dead end, a hard pigeonhole to get out of, and an automatic implication of lifestyle. For German trio, Wight, however, it’s the only thing that fits. And somehow, as the Darmstadt band has named their self-released debut Wight Weedy Wight and guitarist, vocalist, co-engineer and seeming principle figure Rene Hofmann has adorned the front cover with trump l’oeil spirals and psychedelic impressions of the band themselves, amps and other fractals, I don’t think they’d mind the designation. Wight play stoner rock. They do it without shame, in a fog of sleepy-groove reverb, and with a focus on the riff that carries through nearly every move they make on Wight Weedy Wight. The album is four plus two bonus tracks of pure weedian aesthetic, with one eye toward heavy ‘70s spacey classicism and another right on the fuzz pedal. It’s relatively simple in terms of structure, but still loose-feeling and jammed, and Wight are aware as much of the footprints they’re standing in as the ones they’re leaving behind. Like I said: Stoner rock.
More than a lot of the bands in the genre, though, Wight can be viewed as a showcase for Hofmann’s guitar work. From the moment he takes his first echo-drenched solo on opener “Cosmic Rhythm #1,” he’s in the lead, and he doesn’t relinquish the position anywhere across Wight Weedy Wight’s 46 minutes. Sabbathian references abound to coincide with the album’s title; “All Beyond the Piend of Being” breaks after about a minute and a half of its total nine-plus into a guitar line built from Paranoid’s “Jack the Stripper” intro to “Fairies Wear Boots,” and later in that song, Hofmann pans two overlapping solos (with the reverb, the effect is a glorious wash of sustained high notes over the mid-paced bass line) in spirited Iommic homage. While he’s journeying into tonal subspace in these lengthy jams – and there are several of them over the course of the ensuing and even more extended “Let Me Know When You Found God” (10:51) and “Wight Weedy Wight” (11:39) to come – it’s up to the rhythm section of bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Michael Kluck to keep the songs grounded. They’re strong enough as an entity to do it, and as “All Beyond the Piend of Being” flows into subdued start-stop hits to set up Hofmann’s next solo toward the end, where the vocals come back after who even knows how long, it’s so fluid you barely know the band is taking you somewhere until you’ve arrived.
They keep those hypno-cosmic vibes consistently across “Let Me Know When You’ve Found God” and “Wight Weedy Wight,” which, were it not for the two more straightforward bonus cuts, “Shaman Woman” and “Hammer Boogie,” would comprise more than half of Wight Weedy Wight’s runtime. “Let Me Know When You Found God” picks up the pace and activity level from “All Beyond the Piend of Being” somewhat, but the methodology is still largely the same: riff and solo until you find infinity. Hofmann’s vocals feel prominent over the heavy sections of the song (I take that back, it’s all heavy), but aren’t mixed improperly, and since the breadth of the music and the length of the breaks and jams means they come up infrequently, there’s nothing offensive about his somewhat throaty but still natural approach. Rather, he fits well into the groove when he’s there and then steps back to let the instruments – again, particularly his own – hold sway, which it does even as Schierhorn, who’d immediately prior had some of his warmest bass lines yet, and Kluck drop out to leave the guitars on their own in “Let Me Know When You Found God” in true ‘70s solo fashion. It sounds like something off Made in Japan or any number of Sabotage-era bootlegs, and fits right in with the rest of Wight’s organic feel.
Getting under way with an unassuming wah riff, “Wight Weedy Wight” follows suit as well. Instrumental for nearly its entirety, the main riff builds into a C.O.C.-style flow reminiscent of something Wiseblood might have touched on, but quickly spaces it out with (no surprise here) multiple leads from Hofmann. If it seems redundant, that’s on purpose on the part of the band, and it’s pretty clear Wight’s goal with their first record is to entrance. Their title-track finds them at their most spaced out yet, with the only lyrics coming in the most lumbering section of the second half of the song in the form of repeated incantations of “drifting away” – as if to underscore the band’s mission to transcend consciousness. “Wight Weedy Wight” ends in a long stretch of feedback that winds up slamming headfirst into the cacophonous opening of “Shaman Woman.” Both “Shaman Woman” and “Hammer Boogie” were recorded separately from the rest of Wight Weedy Wight (though also with Jorge Medina at Jorgula’s Castle of Death), and I’d expect their older, perhaps demo cuts, as they seem more rudimentary and less directly psychedelic than the other material. “Shaman Woman” is as directly classic heavy rock as Wight gets here – straight out of Sir Lord Baltimore – and the end of “Hammer Boogie” finds Schierhorn offering a well-placed saxophone solo that seems to come out of nowhere and add some last-minute spice to the album, which closes in a big rock finish and a few blown sax notes – evoking images of the few last puffs before your breath finally gives out. It couldn’t be more appropriate if it was followed by coughing.
For its focused redundancies and adherences to well-established genre tactics, Wight Weedy Wight might get glossed over by some as unoriginal or lacking somehow in creative drive. I don’t actually believe that’s the case. Rather, I see it as Hofmann, Schierhorn and Kluck beginning to explore what they want their sound to be, and accomplishing their goal to hypnotize with riffs that are still heavy and engaging. They’re not the first to make any of the moves they do here, but there’s a personality in development on the part of Hofmann and really the whole band that’s going to be worth following over the course of subsequent releases to see how they push themselves and in what directions. Until then, Wight fills a stonerly void with their first album that most others try too hard to avoid. Riff on, gentlemen.
Tags: Darmsdadt, Germany, Unsigned bands, Wight