Wooden Shjips (that’s not a typo) is a vital and refreshingly inspired quartet from San Francisco playing loud rock ‘n’ roll in a style heavily influenced by the experimentalism of psychedelia, classical minimalism and garage rock excess. Started as an experiment in rhythmic primitivism and group improvisation, the current lineup brings a more structured rock approach to its performances, utilizing a traditional lineup of drums (Omar Ahsanuddin), bass (Dusty Jermier), organ (Nash Whalen), guitar (Erik “Ripley” Johnson) and vocals.
Its songs sound something akin to the icy garage rock of early Echo & The Bunnymen crossed with the sun-bleached tremolo-punk of the Scientists. There are hints of krautrock, the trance-inducing organ haze of Suicide, Deerhunter style dance-drone, classic desert-fried garage psych and the mysterious, obscure Japanese lysergic-rock band Les Rallizes Denudes all mixed into one explosive whole on Wooden Shjips self-titled Holy Mountain debut.
The experience of Wooden Shjips has been equated to that of the Japanese phenomenon called maboroshi, which is somewhat similar to seeing a mirage or hallucinating in time. In the context of imagination/dreams, maboroshi is attributed to past occurrences and can take on a meaning like “phantoms.” The group’s songs seem to exist in a dream state in which anything is possible.