By Jon Milton
‘Not a concept album per se’ says the press release accompanying Arc, the latest album from White Manna, but one that ‘sees the band exploring new directions that are more meditative in nature’. And an exploration it certainly is, taking in psychedelic jazz, krautrock, space rock, psych-rock, electronica and experimental psychedelia along the way, to wonderful effect.
A journey from start to finish, Arc delivers a masterclass in tripped out noise over its nine tracks, segueing immersive, expansive tracks with short interludes to create a pretty darn special listening experience.
It helps of course that the album subtly borrows elements from so many excellent influences along the way. Opener ‘Arc’ momentarily begins as though recreating Terry Riley’s classic ‘A Rainbow in the Curved Air’ before asserting itself into a swirling space rock / krautrock juggernaut with delicate flecks of trumpet a la ‘On the Corner’ era Miles Davis.
The elements of jazz really lift the music throughout, combining with seventies electronica on Mythic Salon, dystopian space rock on Pilgrims Progress and experimental psych on the heady Surfer Moron and its continuation track Sailing Stones, which fade outs the album. The short interludes Pollen Ball, Painted Cakes and Soft Apocalypse could easily be jams with Boards of Canada, and Zosser, the only vocal led track on the album powerfully channels ‘Arc Lite’ period Loop.
Arc is released at the end of August on Cardinal Fuzz in conjunction with Centripetal Force for North America, and is available on cream vinyl + digital here. You can listen to Mythic Salon and Zosser via the same link to give yourself a flavour, although the album is obviously designed to be consumed in one rather than via isolated tracks. It’s a great ride.