White Manna were just one of the current crop of psyche overlords vaporising some synapses at the recent and high-profile Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, a weekend which showed to some degree just how hot the meditative/repeato/bong/space/kraut-ish/drone umbrella of rock (delete as appropriate) has become. Of course psyche never really went away since its 60s heyday; these days it’s just evolved to become something bigger, though it’s fair to say that it is currently in vogue. That is, in part, no doubt thanks to the efforts of modern trailblazing psyche-onauts, such as contemporary genre figureheads and label-mates Wooden Shjips . And homage is duly paid here on Dune Worship , White Manna’s sweet-smelling sophomore collection. “X-Ray”, for example, sounds like a k-holed Ripley Johnson trying to negotiate his way out of a maze, the track’s wicked slo-mo groove spot on for some serious self-discovery.
Whereas the self-titled debut set its cosmic exploration apart with an MC5 / Stooges signature, Dune Worship (perhaps unsurprisingly given its title) revels more squarely in retro-futurist warp-driven riffs. And though it wallows in the indulgence of early 80s hard-rock, as well as the kitsch of its sci-fi, it’s also an album never afraid to roll out the righteous shred when required.
There’s a darker edge too. The mysterious middle-pairing of “Illusion Of Illusion” and “Ascension” taking it in turns to push the paranoid over the edge with mid-distance incantation, vaguely back-masked vibes, heavy chug, synth-noise and edge-of-sanity chatter. This leg of the White Manna voyage then fades to black with a ten-minute closer, its frequency-scanning majesty seemingly a space-odyssey recruitment drive to seek out new dimensions of space, time and rock. Sign up quick. There’ll already be a long line of red-eyed volunteers for its continuing mission.