Note: This review was previously published last month by Skyscraper Magazine, who I contribute to on a regular basis.
To date, most of the reviews written of the very appropriately named White Noise Sound reference Spacemen 3 a lot, which makes this reviewer wonder how many of those critics listened to anything beyond the opening track. Part of this might be because Sonic Boom helped record this young Welsh group, along with Cian Ciaran of Super Furry Animals fame, and critics are looking for an obvious reference point. In reality, however, White Noise Sound is a quite diverse and exceptional debut album, encompassing everything from straightforward, raw rock’n’roll power to accomplished, experimental space rock epics.
Yes, the opening track, “Sunset,” which begins with fiery bursts of stun-gun guitar, is very reminiscent of Spacemen 3’s “Revolution,” at least initially. However, when the song fully kicks in, it sounds much more like contemporary fellow travelers, such as The Warlocks or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, replete with a heady mix of post-Jesus and Mary Chain pyrotechnics and Stooges-meets-Velvet Underground rock’n’roll cool. It’s easy to picture black as the most prominent color in the White Noise Sound wardrobe, too!
The Stooges/VU reference point makes a lot of sense on “It Is There For You,” a slow hypnotic mood piece with almost spoken word vocals and occasional, furious blasts of power – very John Cale-inspired (think “We Will Fall,” which he wrote for the Stooges’ self-titled debut). “Fires In the Still Sea” is quite ambient and mellow, while “There Is No Tomorrow” picks things up with a Brian Jonestown Massacre-like psychedelic groove and an enticing arrangement that includes flute, piccolo, and sax.
This leads to the album’s centerpiece, “Blood” and “Blood (Reprise),” one of the best psych-rock songs you will hear all year. The former begins with an impressive array of feedback that Loop would have been proud of before kicking into a crushing rocker not unlike The Warlock’s “Hurricane Heart Attack” with its insanely catchy melody and skull crushing, primal “caveman rock” style. “Blood (Reprise)” tones down things a lot with a seductive arrangement of synths, drones, and subdued, distorted, hushed vocals. The vibe then builds to an almost horror film-like score climax consisting of sinister guitar feedback, which reappears near the end.
Other highlights include “Don’t Wait For Me,” which brings to mind the vastly underrated early 1990s Rugby, England, group The Darkside, while the album finale, “(In Both) Dreams and Ecstasies,” lives up to its name with an almost orchestral-like combination of soft and loud sounds. A fantastic end to a fantastic record.