WHITE MANNA / INFINITY FORMS OF YELLOW REMEMBER / DEEP HUM | LIVE REVIEW
The Moon, Cardiff, Mon 25 Sept
While most bands pause between songs to catch their breath and maybe tune up, Deep Hum do so to swap sitars. It’s been years since I last went to Glastonbury, so credit to the trio for transporting me back there with the sort of hazy, lazy Eastern-influenced techno that routinely floats from Healing Fields tents and tucked-away bars run by dreadlocked staff in tie-dye T-shirts. I’m imagining Neu!/Cluster collaboration Harmonia on a Buddhist retreat, or perhaps Animal Collective if they stopped flinging absolutely everything they’ve got into the mix and went to mellow out on a gap year in Goa.
If Deep Hum light a metaphorical joss stick (indeed, the scent of a real one soon drifts from the bar), then Infinity Forms Of Yellow Remember spark up something significantly more pungent and potent. German pioneers Can and modern psych acts such as the headliners are an obvious touchstone, but the flares, flowing locks, tight grooves and earnest focus suggest the band may have been beamed straight in from an episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test. The bass is too dominant and there are only two songs, neither of which completely blows socks off, but this is only their second gig and the smell of promise also hangs heavy in the air.
White Manna arrive at the Moon – “our kind of place: cosy” – as part of a European tour to mark the release of new LP Bleeding Eyes. The album was recorded and mixed with Trans Am’s Phil Manley and mastered by John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet and Wellwater Conspiracy, the garage rock side-project of Soundgarden duo Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron. Their first two records were released on the Holy Mountain label, and a previous visit to Cardiff in 2014 saw them play Clwb Ifor Bach in support of Wooden Shjips offshoot Moon Duo. Join all those dots and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what they sound like.
For an outfit whose material reeks of the copious consumption of weed and LSD, the Californians have a surprisingly strong work ethic: Bleeding Eyes is their fifth studio LP since the release of their self-titled debut in 2012. Not that they seem that bothered about actually shifting any copies: we’re told they have the album for sale ahead of its official release, but “you don’t have to buy it, you can just come and look at it”.
Sadly, the soft sell extends to the performance itself, which – for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on (the sound mix, perhaps?) – falls short of doing full justice to either the sprawling psych-rock epics that are their stock in trade or the punchier, faster, more abrasive, Stooges-influenced tracks exemplified by set closer Trampoline, one of Bleeding Eyes’ best cuts. There is pleasure to be gleaned from the fact that freshers who abandon the lengthy Clwb queue and dart in in desperate need of a piss are sent fleeing with alarm in their eyes, but the truth is that on the night White Manna don’t really live up to their live reputation, or the high standard of their recorded output.
words BEN WOOLHEAD