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Posted on October 28th, 2011 (4:06 pm) by Trevor Read

Hail Woodsman, a quartet of psychedelic noise-rockers from Denver, CO. Featuring a unique lineup with dual drummers and guitarists, Woodsman demonstrates a talent for eschewing conventional songwriting in favor of organic-sounding jam-band theatrics. They do this so fluidly, it’s nearly impossible not to become submerged in their chaotic body of sound.

The Mystic Places EP, released Oct. 25 via Fire Talk Records, doesn’t deviate drastically from the band’s earlier work. Over the record’s six tracks, Woodsman weaves a kaleidoscopic, pseudo-spiritual tapestry, tackling both up- and down-tempo jams with equal finesse. Boasting tons of interlocking drumming, spacey guitar riffs, and intelligent production, Mystic Places is cerebral (without being overwrought), percussive (without being distracting) and claims some of the best in-home mixing this side of Star Slinger.

Following a short introductory passage, Mystic Places launches into its swiftest and most accessible track, “View From the Vision Hand.” Thick with Dave Knudson-esque noodling and driving percussion, it’s an ideal opportunity for the uninitiated to enter Woodsman’s sonic fray. “Vision Hand” sets a frantic tempo; but Mystic Places immediately descends into “Specdrum,” a bright, atmospheric jam heavy with double drumming and threaded with (rare) vocals all but lost in a shoegaze haze.

“Parallel Minds” is a heady slow-burner, a bluesy, Floydian centerpiece laced with wafting guitar leads. It’s Mystic Places at its most “chill,” a feeling inspired by “Parallel Minds’” mantra-like chord repetitions and intentional lack of progression. “In Circles” offers a brooding mid-tempo track, backed with ambient synths and fragile-sounding vocals. Though not particularly compelling (it might actually be the EP’s low note), “In Circles” morphs neatly into album-closer “Tone Cloak,” a tenebrous, transcendental odyssey.

“Tone Cloak” gathers the best of Woodsman’s sound (asynchronous drumming, displaced guitars, roiling synths, and hypnotic vocal cues), folding them into an overwhelming--almost oppressive--wall of noise. More than any other track on the EP, “Tone Cloak” displays an impressive attention to detail, a natural blending of style and sound into something monolithic, at once chaotic and reassuring. These spiritual undercurrents are thanks in large part to Woodsman’s thorough mixing; but most of their talent, and the track’s inexplicable power, will go unrealized without the benefit of headphones.

Over the course of several EPs, Woodsman as honed their ability to deliver just enough to keep listeners wanting more. Mystic Places is no exception. It’s a concise record filled with capable tracks, but right when it starts to get sincerely interesting, it ends. A little more would have been welcome. The band’s highly stylized vocals are murky by design, but a little clarity could have helped push their ideas to the forefront.

Woodsman earns unnecessary bonus points for their idiosyncratic configuration, but their music more than holds its own. Mystic Places isn’t perfect (nor will its psych-jam trappings appeal to everyone), but it’s a wonderfully interesting divergence from derivative post-rock instrumentals.

Track List
1. (Intro)
2. View From the Vision Hand
3. Specdrum
4. Parallel Minds
5. In Circles
6. Tone Cloak

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

76 / 100
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