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White Noise Sound - WNS

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Artist: White Noise Sound

Album: WNS

Label: Alive

Review date: Jun. 17, 2011

“Sunset,” the first and best track off this space-rocking debut, is a hailstorm of psychedelic torment, its Suicide-ish synthetic drones plonking down on sheets of grey-guitar-driven murk. Dense, roiling, squalling layers of sound fold over and under the song’s uninflected chant-song, kept in line by the thwacking precision of the drum line. In a decade when everyone can be forgiven for never wanting to hear another song that reminds them of The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Sunset” cuts right to the point, its turbulent mayhem swirling around tormented pop melodies.

White Noise Sound is a Welsh band whose output prior to this album consisted of one-half a split single and a couple of compilation tracks. They’re well-connected, though, even at this early stage. Peter Kember (a.k.a. Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3) helped them record WNS, as did Super Furry Animals keyboardist Cian Ciaran. It’s easy to see Spaceman 3’s influence on slow-blooming psych freakouts like “Fires in the Still Sea” or “Blood (Reprise)” where guitar sounds are allowed to shift and mutate into strange atmospheres and landscapes. The link to SFA is less explicit, though perhaps can be made in the nearly pop exuberance of the trumpet-and-kitchen-sink crescendos at the end of “There Is No Tomorrow.”

WNS begins impressively – and, in fact, its entire first half gets the balance of song to sound experiment right. The blistering attack of “Sunset” leads into the slow tone-weaving drones of “Don’t Wait for Me,” which itself yields ground to the nodding, glacially unfolding “It Is There For You,” a song that starts in VU-ish shadow play and builds into an obliterating overload. “Blood,” falling about halfway through the album, is WNS’s second killer song. It erupts from a wall of feedback into a stomping, swaggering guitar vamp just bad-assed enough to make the lyric “Me and the devil walking side by side” seem appropriate, rather than laughable.

As you reach the back end, however, the album loses its drive, devolving into amp-aided tone-poems, languid Mercury Rev-ish incantations, and formless guitar freakouts of varying shapes and sizes. “Blood,” for instance, is followed by the eight-minute-long “Blood (Reprise)” an extended, meter-less, melody-less exploration of the sounds guitars can make with the help of various kinds of pedals. It’s not a terrible thing in itself. In fact, let’s stipulate, there’s a certain amount of slo-mo beauty in it. But who would follow it with another extended audio experiment, the also eight-minute-plus, also languidly atmospheric “No Place to Hide”? (White Noise Sound, that’s who.) And there’s more to come. The two final tracks, “Don’t Wait for Me” and “(In Both) Dreams & Ecstasies” are, likewise, dreamy, lysergic and a little bit static, a warm puddle of sound to lie on, motionless, until the album concludes.

WNS could obviously have been a brilliant single and a pretty excellent EP. As it is, the second half drags enough that, by the end, you start to wonder how much you really liked the beginning. But then you got back to “Sunset” and the magic kicks in again.

By Jennifer Kelly

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