White Manna, Ape on Sunday: Off You Go

Posted in Reviews on June 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

white manna ape on sunday

As though beamed in from some dimension rife with all the colors humans can’t see shining in pools of lysergic applesauce, White Manna‘s sixth album, Ape on Sunday, immediately enters the kosmiche foray with its seven-minute opening title-track. Also the longest inclusion (immediate points) at 7:10, it is immersive and exploratory in kind, a sweeping space rock mover that captures the attention and doesn’t so much hold it as toss it back and forth between hands, reshaping and kneading consciousness like so much stiff dough that’s been sitting around for too long. The proceedings call to order via Cardinal Fuzz around the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/keyboardists David Johnson and Anthony Taibi, bassist Johnny Webb and drummer/vocalist Tavan Anderson, and the LP presents a don’t-want-to-take-up-too-much-of-your-time-microwaving-your-brain 34 minutes across which unfold seven tracks each one component in the purpose of sonic adventure and expression.

Mike Dieter adds synth to the mix as well (is he in the band full-time? I don’t know, man, is anyone? Are you? Are we all?) and the Arcata, California-based troupe put it to excellent use — if that’s what I’m hearing — in “O Captain,” which follows behind “Spirit of St. Louis,” the second and second to longest cut (secondary points) which unfurls almost direct from the leadoff with swirls and stick-click percussion. I think I hear a tambourine far back in there, but can’t be sure if I’m imagining it. Neither of the two tracks in the opening salvo really delve into lost-control freakoutery — “Ape on Sunday” is too solid in its space rock push, and “Spirit of St. Louis” has a cyclical bassline that holds it together — but there’s headphone-worthy fare just the same as White Manna slowly and patiently build on the space-jazz wash that capped “Ape on Sunday” with “Spirit of St. Louis,” a change in the drum pattern just before the three-minute mark signaling the turn to the even bouncier vibe that takes hold, then fades out to let manipulated and sampled-sounding organ and other sundries finish. Two songs and 13 and a half minutes deep, Ape on Sunday shimmers bright and feels purposeful in its jammy foundations.

Not that a band six records deep shouldn’t know what they want to do, but sometimes not knowing exactly where a piece is headed is fun too. The mood shifts markedly with the aforementioned “O Captain,” which is shorter at 3:35 and, though it’s also the likely closer of side A, comes paired in the tracklisting with the 3:56 “Night in Lisbon” as the next of Ape on Sunday‘s three two-song movements, completed by the three-minute closer “More More More” at the end, which works twice as well because despite its title, it’s the only such movement without a second song. Around mellow keys and post-prog drama-drumming, “O Captain” feels still compared to the title-track and “Spirit of St. Louis” before it, and that seems to be intentional, not to much in a stop-and-rest vein but more like an arrival at a different place, from which “Night in Lisbon” — hey, that’s a place! — takes hold with a quickly manifest fuzz overload and echoing vocals overlaid, the effects ringing outward into intertwining layers of guitar and synth and once again it’s Anderson tasked with holding it all together, which he does ably with (more?) tambourine and a mantra of tom hits. “Night in Lisbon” doesn’t really shove into any kind of grand payoff or anything, but White Manna let it breathe instrumentally in its final two minutes, fading out long until only residual swirl remains.

white manna

A quick howl of guitar volume swell and emergence of bass and drums and (soon enough) synth and keys signal the arrival of “Eye in the Cloud that Serves as Thunder,” which feels more spacious in its mix despite the immediacy of the drum line and tape-loop-sounding whatnot surrounding. The tension is such that White Manna seem to be signaling something’s gotta give, and what does is reality, as the band dive headfirst into an angular proggy noodle that comes apart amid maddening let-it-all-go a bit of either sax or sax sounds in the fade, the leftover echoes of which extend into “Zodiak Spree,” which is entrancing drone and soundscaping that’s like New Age if New Age had ever been any good. The synthesizer oozes in and out over a consistent low-end drone and guitars gently enter and exit as well while the hypnotic figures play. There’s no verse, no chorus, no lyrics, no real “parts” as such, but at five-minutes long, “Zodiak Spree” seems to speak to the same feeling of arrival — not necessarily in Portugal or, for that matter, anywhere else — as “O Captain,” rounding out the third pairing on Ape on Sunday with resonant chill.

That leaves just “More More More” to act as the keystone move on its own for White Manna, and it does so as also the shortest track at 3:03, a twisted jangle of guitar noise, garage rock drumming, synth, keys, whatever. Someone is speaking or making noise or just kind of laughing, but there’s a momentary cast to the jam wherein it takes a bodily presence around a Hendrixian guitar line circa two-minutes in and locks down a groove for, a measure or two. That one part could’ve lasted probably 10 minutes, but that’s not White Manna‘s trip this time around. Instead, it cuts itself short and leaves the guitar hanging and the synth running outward, coming apart quicker than some of the other pieces but staying consistent in doing so anyhow. It’s gone before they hit three minutes, which is fair enough as by that time, Ape on Sunday has already traversed up, down and between spaces of sound and let its audience come along for the brief but wide-ranging and evocative ride.

Some of the more cinematic aspects of the synth in “O Captain” or even “Eye in the Could that Serves as Thunder” add further breadth to the whole experience, but the truth is that White Manna are going where they’re going whether they know how to get there or not. That’s part of what makes Ape on Sunday so exciting a listen as the communion of exploration takes on so many forms.

White Manna, Ape on Sunday (2019)

White Manna on Thee Facebooks

White Manna on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

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White Manna Announce Ape on Sunday out June 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

white manna

I was like, ‘Oh hey White Manna have a new album coming out, I’ve written about them before’ — they’ve been in year-end poll lists and a couple news stories here and there probably much like this one — then I hit their Bandcamp to check out the tunes and I was reminded why I’d written about White Manna before. The place they call home, Arcata, California, is just about the halfway point along the US West Coast, so they’re pretty far removed from the San Diego and San Francisco scenes to the south and likewise the Portland/Seattle stuff to the north. Accordingly, the wash they craft is their own, and as they move toward the release of their sixth album, Ape on Sunday — out June 28 through Cardinal Fuzz — they seem to draw from all sides with a fluid of groove and a manifestation of psychedelia true to tradition and their own intent alike.

That’s going by two songs, but something tells me the rest of this one isn’t exactly a dud. Keep an eye out.

Here’s PR wire info, links and audio:

white manna ape on sunday

Cardinal Fuzz are proud to present to you ‘Ape On Sunday’ – the 6th Long Player from Arcataa, California’s White Manna. Recorded over a period of time that saw front man David Johnson return home to Massachusetts to spend time with his family after a traumatic event. While away Dave and Anthony (back on board fully for this new lp) tackled the recordings they had started while Tavan and Johnny laid down the drum and bass tracks and Mike Dieter also rejoined White Manna to lay down some synth parts (honing a Klaus Schulze vibe) . When Dave returned to Humboldt they at long last got down to finishing the LP. ‘Ape On Sunday’ takes its inspiration and title from a Robert Zimmerman poem in his poetry book/novel – ‘Tarantula’ – a stream of conscious / cut up style prose from ’66.

You can feel how the life experiences over the last year have seeped, shaped and informed ‘Ape On Sunday’ which is the bands most intimate release since ‘Come Down Safari’. It’s a heady hypnotic mix that at times plays like psychedelic meditations and at others like music for a post apocalyptic movie. The Redwood canopies of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle still influence White Manna but there sound here is heading out in a more experimental direction where the music is more kosmische in style with sounds wreathed in mist and vapours, droning synths and shimmering guitars. ‘Ape On Sunday’ finds White Manna re-entering the stratosphere and floating back down to the dense redwood forest of their homeland.

Housed in a 350gsm Gloss Laminated Sleeve with a full colour insert and download code.

Tracklisting:
1. Ape On Sunday 07:10
2. Spirit Of St. Louis
3. O Captain
4. Night In Lisbon
5. Eye In The Cloud That Serves As Thunder
6. Zodiak Spree
7. More More More

https://www.facebook.com/whitemanna/
https://whitemanna.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzz/
cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/

White Manna, Ape on Sunday (2019)

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 7: The Light Beyond

Posted in Features on February 25th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

02.24.14 — 10:28PM Pacific — Monday night — Quality Inn, Arcata, CA

“Fuckin’ giant octopus…” — Aaron Bumpus

Today I saw the sun for the first time in what seemed like at least four months, and I’m not sure I can properly explain how good it felt. Not just the last two days of rain in the Pacific Northwest, but just the whole winter back home has been so soul-retchingly grim. It’s February and I stood outside today without a hoodie on. Whatever else happened, the day was going to be a win from the word go. The tour had an off-date, but with last night having been Portland and tomorrow being San Francisco, it was travel the whole day. That’s not the last time that’s going to happen on this run.

Wasn’t terrible, in any case. Most of the drive I spent nerding out on the landscape, which was deeply, richly beautiful, with tree-lined mountains, properties cut into the forest in straight lines like a border about to be eaten by a wave. So fucking cool. Mountains all over the place, people nowhere. Wonderful, gorgeous land. One hardly thinks of loading into a sprinter van with six other dudes as a way to feel refreshed, but that’s where I was at this afternoon as we made our way south through Oregon. Here we are, rolled into a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. There’s the Subway, there’s the Pilot, there’s the porn shack, there’s Kings Destroy picking up a sixer for the road, and here’s me taking pictures in the parking lot like it’s National Geographic. Still, the sky and the mountains had me well enamored.

Jim Pitts had his work cut out for him on the drive, though Steve took over for a while as well after signing a form, taking a picture of it on his phone and sending it to who knows where. We came south down the 205 out of Portland, romantic visions of the Hawthorne Theatre and surrounding area still lingering in my head to go with my ringing ears, then picked up 99 to 199 in Grant’s Pass, which looked like a cool little town. Sort of these hippie enclaves along the way, people for whom getting away from other people was clearly a priority. Very secluded, some small shops outside of town. One place that made custom treehouses that were particularly righteous. I’m not sure that I’d be able to give up my kneejerk New Jersey prick bred-in anger and restlessness long enough to live that way for any real stretch of time, but it’s a lifestyle I envy.

Late afternoon/early evening found the van on winding roads in the hills, headed toward the coast. The kinds of turns you either take slow or slam into the side of a mountain. By the time we got into California and picked up the 101 at around exit 800, about five hours after starting out, I was starting to drag a bit, but a quick pit stop after coming through some crazy mountain tunnel provided respite. I think everyone got increasingly worn down from there by the drive, but best to keep going. Saw some redwood trunks in the forest, but it was dark by then, so not much more, and nothing really of the water except the blackness where it would’ve been by day and stars overhead. We got to this motel in Arcata, CA, a little bit before 8:30PM, checked in, ate at the Mexican place next door — which officially closed at nine, but were very accommodating all the same — for food and drink. Flautas and iced tea. West Coast Mexican food demolishes the vast majority of what’s available back home, though obviously there are exceptions on both sides. As a general rule though, the standard is higher. The East Coast has pizza though, which isn’t nothing. Talk was of hardcore days gone by, bands, shows, people, scenes, etc. I know next to nothing about any of it, but it’s interesting.

Steve had said something about hitting a beach early in the morning and I think C-Wolf and Jim Pitts were going to go as well, but I’m more inclined to crash out for as long as possible. I got to sleep after four last night and the fire alarm at the motel in Portland went off a little after seven because some doofus left his waffle in the iron too long. Sleep in the van is just about out of the question so far, though I was dozing by the time we pulled into Arcata, so I’ll take what I can get however I can get it. Tomorrow night is DNA Lounge in San Fran, and then on to Albuquerque. I’m looking forward to seeing the Pacific coast again during the day and to the show as well. It’s not an insubstantial trip, but it’s going fast. Tomorrow is Tuesday already and we leave on Saturday. Between, more mountains, forest, desert, rock and roll. I feel lucky to be here, immensely thankful to have been invited.

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