Distorsión y Reiteración
The Warlocks se han convertido ya en una banda clásica del panorama del Pop Psicodélico. Han evolucionado lentamente desde sus comienzos (numerosos cambios de formación que sólo han dejado a Bobby Hecksher al frente del proyecto) les han llevado a convertirse en un grupo diríamos que casi “de culto”. No han dejado de lado su faceta más obsesiva por el Pop oscuro, introspectivo adornado de ciertas luces psicodélicas, aunque en este Skull worship se han acercado más a territorios más Drone. Personalmente, opino que no es ni de lejos su mejor trabajo, y me quedo justamente con el tema que abre el mismo (Dead generation) y con el que lo cierra, de manera brillante (Eyes jam). Enmedio, nos vamos encontrando con demasiados medios tiempos algo reiterativos.
“As former associates of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, LA quintet The Warlocks can almost lay claim to a similar number of line-up changes throughout their fifteen-year existence. While bandleader Bobby Hecksher and long term songwriting partner JC Rees remain, there’s a changed look about The Warlocks version 2k13 from the one that last appeared with 2009’s The Mirror Explodes. Despite the shifts in personnel, the band’s sound hasn’t really differentiated that much from where it set out on 2001’s Rise And Fall. And even though that’s probably one of the reasons they’ve retained “cult” status for so long, it’s something that’s served them well throughout the past decade-and-a-half. Not least with the current surge of interest in all things related to psychedelic rock.
That the gestation period for Skull Worship – their eighth album – took two years on top of the two in hiatus since its predecessors release perhaps speaks more about Hecksher’s alleged reputation as something of a perfectionist than anything else. Slated as the final part of a musical trilogy that started with Heavy Deavy Skull Lover in 2007, Skull Worship drifts between a rock and a hard place almost akin to a game of two halves. Influenced by the likes of T Rex and Neu! as well as the usual psych behemoths such as Spacemen 3 and Hawkwind, it traverses between the dense, sonic palette of Phoenix, arguably the band’s finest hour, and a more tranquil, introspective line similar to the one punctuating Rise And Fall’s ebullient core.
Opener ‘Dead Generation’ carries The Warlocks most prophetic statement of intent to date. A bleak yet infectious call to arms that even makes a play for radio, admittedly of the 6Music rather than 1Xtra variety. Constructed around a nagging guitar riff, it is not a million miles away from ‘Come Save Us’ off 2005’sSurgery and acts as a domineering launchpad to announce the band’s return as 2013 draws to a close. ‘Chameleon’ too sounds like The Warlocks of old, fusing droning guitars with insistent pounding rhythms like a sonic rollercoaster.
There’s a brief respite on the reflective ‘Endless Drops’, Hecksher’s vocals once more buried in the mix for extra instrumentation. By the time George Serrano’s drums convey the song to another level of sonic velocity, its densely orchestrated bassline matching the guitars notch for notch in the volume stakes. ‘Silver & Plastic’ also follows a laidback path, relying on a brooding intensity rather than ear shredding assault to get its creators’ message across. Clocking in at just under three-and-a-half minutes, ‘He Looks Good In Space’ is possibly The Warlocks at their most experimentally dreamy. Drawing on backwards masked guitar parts, haunting overdubs and umpteen layers, it concentrates on assorted levels of sound inference rather than traditional song structure and is all the more refreshing for it.
While ‘You’ve Changed’ once again veers between introspective melancholy and disconcerted anger, penultimate number ‘It’s A Hard Fall’ goes for the jugular, packing its wall of sound with chugging riffs and distorted feedback to ultimately satisfying success. By the time ‘Eyes Jam’ brings Skull Worship to its close in a similar, improvised fashion to ‘Oh Shadie’ off Phoenix or ‘Suicide Note’ fromSurgery, there’s a feeling of quiet contentment within Camp Warlocks. Although not quite being the pièce de résistance Bobby Hecksher and co. were hoping for,Skull Worship is a welcome return and when all’s said and done, the musical landscape would be a much duller place without them” (Drowned in Sound)
“Indeed, there is no such thing as a “classic” Warlocks line-up, a factor made more apparent by the consistently high standards set by each of their releases. Although possibly the shortest long player they’ve ever constructed, The Mirror Explodes is no less endearing. Whereas previous albums Surgery and Heavy Deavy Skull Lover both seemed to focus on skullcrushingly loud atmospherics, this feels like more of a comedown, a document to accompany the aftermath of a psychedelic trip to enlightenment, or as some might say, just another average day in the life of The Warlocks.
However, what you and I may consider to be average would be a million miles away from Hecksher and co., as song titles like ‘Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell’ and ‘There Is A Formula To Your Despair’ suggest. With the current shoegaze revival in full swing, they’ve probably chosen the right time to unleash The Mirror Explodes, although one accusation no one could ever level at The Warlocks would be to brand them as calculated mercenaries; far from it in fact, as their refusal to build on the (near) commercial success of album number two Phoenix seven years ago evidently demonstrates.
Despite their being a more mellow aura throughout the record, there’s still a gnawing level of intensity, not to mention the band’s legendary three-guitar assault. New bassist Jana Risher also brings a more dominant, brooding kind of menace to their already cataleptic sound, transforming the aforementioned ‘Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell’ and closing epic ‘Static Eyes’ into orgasmic trance-like epilogues that shift between drone and dirge effortlessly.
Gone are the days when songs like ‘Baby Blue’ or ‘Hurricane Heart Attack’ could be considered radio-friendly in a perverse parallel universe. None of the eight pieces of music here fit into that vein in any way shape or form. ‘Red Camera’ and ‘Slowly Disappearing’ both evoke morbid fantasies (or should that be nightmares?) yet prove richly engaging, while the penultimate surge of ‘Frequency Meltdown’ – the now customary instrumental jam that The Warlocks include on nearly all of their albums – is possibly their most incisive to date, a swirling six-minute opus that mixes Sound Of Confusion-era Spacemen 3 dynamics with a structure reminiscent of the first Doors record.
That this record will probably go largely ignored by many is rather sad. Though no longer flavour of the month in ‘cool’ circles, as far as The Warlocks are concerned it’s business as usual, and The Mirror Explodes is up there with their finest works to date” (drownedinsound.com)