Posted in Features on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know it hasn’t yet been a full month since I reviewed Wight‘s Through the Woods into Deep Water, but it actually arrived much earlier than that, and in a lot of ways, the second album from the German stonerly trio has summed up the crux of my summer. It’s languid in some parts and unrepentantly heavy in others, and as we round out this weekly feature and approach Labor Day — the traditional end of summer here in the States, at least as regards back-to-school time and vacationing — there doesn’t seem to be a single record that comes to mind more than Wight‘s as having been such a regular feature throughout the season.
Whether it was the bleak weirdness of “Kiss Your Friends Goodbye” or the reconfigured Pentagram riffing of “I Spit on Your Grave,” the sleepy psychedelia of the title-track or the dirty blues of “You!,” Wight‘s jam-ready platter made for an easy go-to, suitable to any number of moods and atmospheres. In the car, in the yard and in the office (where I was more than anywhere else these past few months), the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Rene Hofmann, bassist/saxophonist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Michael Kluck proved malleable to whatever was going on at the time, and the songs made a reliable fit, no matter what.
If you go back over the past Album of the Summer of the Week picks, you’ll notice that none of them were from this year. A couple from 2011, and others scattered throughout the past few decades, but Through the Woods into Deep Wateris the only 2012 pick for this whole series of posts and that’s on purpose. There are a ton of records I’ve been immersed in for review and just general listening purposes, but Wight has been a consistent presence throughout the last couple months and I continue to appreciate its varied and rich atmospherics even as I tilt my head back and just let the riff of “Master of Nuggets” carry me where it will.
In case you’ve not yet had the chance to be carted off by their boogie shuffle or bass heavy grooving, here’s Wight‘s Through the Woods into Deep Waterin its entirety, courtesy of their Bandcamp page, where the album is available in an array of CD and LP editions:
Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
“Clear-headed” probably isn’t a fitting descriptor for something so fuzzed out as Through the Woods into Deep Water, but in trying to sum up the progression of German stoner trio Wight on their second album, nothing else quite fits. The Darmsdadt three-piece made their debut early in 2011 with the Sabbathian heavy psych of Wight Weedy Wight (review here), and for all the potential that record showed, the follow-up seems to be the band taking their sound to a new level. What that means, essentially, is a more professional approach all around and a firmer idea of what they want their style to be. Hence “clear-headed.” Available through Bilocation Records as a limited double-vinyl or in a Fat and Holy Records CD digipak edition of 500 with a foldout poster of the Arik Roper artwork, the physical presentation of Through the Woods into Deep Water is just one way in which the band has developed from their already impressive beginnings. The nine-track/58-minute release shares in part with its predecessor the recording work of Jorge Medina – Lorenz “Lolo” Blümler also engineered five of the songs – and there are sonic consistencies on account of that, but on the whole the mix is better and guitarist/vocalist Rene Hofmann, oft-sunglassed bassist/saxophonist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn (also of black metallers Fallen Tyrant) and drummer Michael Kluck have more of a sense of what they want to do as a band. Songs blend elements from modern European heavy jamming, as on the thoroughly-percussed, thoroughly-soloed instrumental opening stretch of the 11:20 “Southern Comfort and Northern Lights,” with classic heavy rock boogie and shuffle – see “Master of Nuggets” – and the organic live feel of the first album is maintained even as Hofmann layers solos over top of each other and he and Schierhorn come together in sub-harmony for creepy opener “Kiss Your Friends Goodbye,” giving a sense of foreboding to what might otherwise just seem to be stonerly shenanigans and weighted jamming.
Not to say that stonerly shenanigans and weighted jamming aren’t part of it and a big part at that –Wight maintain a lighthearted atmosphere even in darker moments like the opener or the somber acoustic interlude “Halfway to Infinity” – but altogether, Through the Woods into Deep Water is a more professional record than was Wight Weedy Wight on nearly every level. More importantly, it’s among the best representations of next-gen heavy rock and psych that I’ve heard this year. The band’s songwriting purpose is clearly established, but a loose vibe is maintained, and even as Kluck crashes to emphasize the dooming plod of “Kiss Your Friends Goodbye” and the creepy lines, “My lap will be your graveyard/Kiss your friends goodbye,” are repeated in a manner reminiscent of a thicker take on The Kings of Frog Island, there’s something laid back in Wight’s mood that doesn’t take away as much from the threat as makes it even more vague and mysterious. After five minutes in, the opening fades and a slow, open jam fades up, underscored by Hofmann’s organ work. It’s a curious transition, but just as likely intended to defy expectation as anything else. As an introduction, it sets you up to not know what’s coming next. Fitting since what’s coming next is “I Spit on Your Grave,” an almost direct port of the riff to Pentagram’s classic “Forever My Queen.” Now, I don’t hold it against a band like Wight to cull parts from a band like Pentagram – it’s so obvious here what’s going on sonically and they take it somewhere else in the chorus, so I don’t at all get the sense that they’re trying to pass that riff as something they just came up with. Hell, even the drums are same in the intro. By the halfway point, however, it’s clear “I Spit on Your Grave” is repurposing more than it’s simply adopting, and the song puts that classic musical hook to good use. After five minutes in, the pace picks up and Wight unveil the first of Through the Woods into Deep Water’s several effective shuffles, only to shortly turn it on its head with metallic crunch. Only 13 minutes in, and the band has shown they’re nothing if not big on surprises.
“Southern Comfort and Northern Lights” arrives not entirely without precedent. Both “Let Me Know When You’ve Found God” and “Wight Weedy Wight” from Wight Weedy Wight were extended jams on either side of 11 minutes long. There’s more to “Southern Comfort and Northern Lights” than that, however. It basically breaks down into four parts: the opening jam, a boogie verse and chorus that cycles through twice, an organ-led break that also boasts some excellent interplay between Schierhorn’s sax and Hofmann’s guitar, a return cycle through that verse and chorus, and beginning just after 10 minutes in, a swaggering riff that’s too thick to really be a shuffle, but moves nonetheless. The structure isn’t what stands out in listening so much as the catchy chorus or the performances of all three players, but it shows that Wight, however far out they might go, still have a sense of not letting the song they’re writing get away from them, and with the dreamier acoustic interlude “Halfway to Infinity” following “Southern Comfort and Northern Lights,” it shows they feel that way about the whole of Through the Woods into Deep Water as well. After the sprawl of the preceding cut, it makes sense to have the classic Zeppelin-style acoustics where they are, the 3:32 track gradually introducing Kluck’s drums and Schierhorn’s bass to the mix before blowing out to an echoing and distorted finish that somehow keeps its otherworldly sweetness. Aside from sounding warm on its own, it’s a good bridge between “Southern Comfort and Northern Lights” and the 9:52 centerpiece “Master of Nuggets,” the riff of which is quick to infect and long to let go. Again Wight unleash a shuffling rhythm, the bass and drums holding it down while Hofmann breaks out a verse of lead lines on guitar and matches it vocally, pulling strings and holding notes at the same time in a classic kind of indulgence. After two verses, they move to a bouncing chorus of “oohs” that brings to mind Colour Haze’s falsetto non-verbal vocalizing, and where “Master of Nuggets” really distinguishes itself is in the extended jam that follows the next verse/chorus cycle. Schierhorn’s bass takes the fore for a moment and Hofmann answers back with a solo – Kluck holding the rhythm the whole time until shortly before eight minutes in the chorus begins again and Wight use it to transition into another meaty riff, an assortment of grunts topping until a stop brings back a couple measures of winding guitars and the age-old question, “What’s wrong with being sexy?” – the This is Spinal Tap reference delivered totally deadpan – launches the warm “wanna love ya”-type rocker “You!”