Ape On Sunday by White MannaRelease date: June 28, 2019
Label: Cardinal Fuzz
White Manna are no strangers to the psychedelic vortex when it comes to making an unholy racket, built on layered walls of sound. Indeed, listening to them can sometimes feel like the equivalent of being laid down by a ton of LSD as a steamroller drives over your head. Inducing heightened states of bliss, yet pounding the very fabric of your soul, they sound simply monolithic. Which makes new album Ape On Sunday all the more interesting as they eschew those usual tropes for a much more measured and trippy experience. Where there would have been the usual riffs is now a more exploratory tone which seeks out those inner depths within space. Rather than exploding outwards, they gravitate inwards.
That said, there are still plenty of pure White Manna moments such as on the dark, industrial throb of the title track. Opening the album with in grand style, it’s motorik riff soon gives way to a masterclass in space rock, as the undulating sounds roll over your senses. It’s all backed up by the tight rhythm section which keeps things moving as the spaced out sounds get progressively weirder. It’s almost as if Doctor Who has met Can in a dark alley, lit up a spliff, and had a bash at playing Hawkwind.
And that’s just the first song. From here on in it’s an everything goes type of trip as the bass driven ‘Spirit Of St Louis’ takes us down ever darker paths. It’s the key to opening up the inner expanses that White Manna are keen to explore here, and by the time we get to the Pink Floyd sounding ‘O Captain’, we are submerged within a new world but one still resolutely of White Manna’s.
This new approach pays dividends as the album becomes increasingly more ambient in its approach. It’s still overladen with that standard heaviness, but now it comes from an oppressive quiet, rather than a rampaging loudness. On ‘Night In Lisbon’ they sound completely adrift in a haze of sounds, with nothing quite grasping a sense of purpose. It’s a blissful feeling of sensory deprivation, where in the past they would simply overload.
Having maybe seen that there is a future outside of the riffs, White Manna have made an album which opens up a whole new world of psychedelic possibilities. It will be interesting to see where they go after this as Ape On Sunday is an at times remarkable album. It’s one for the stoners and over time you will continue to discover new things within it. It’s certainly a statement of intent from a band who have always been big on it. This will sit strong within any round up of psych albums this year, and deservedly so.