Review: White Manna ‘ARC’

Veteran altered states of consciousness captains, White Manna have plethora of albums in their vaults, spanning as far back as 2008. ARC is the latest of contribution with a conceptual vision of a meditative journey, an outer body & inner body experience. I’m guessing the album title ARC is a nod to the home of White Manna – Arcata California, North of Sacramento, a pretty bay leading into the North Pacific Ocean, and possibly influencing their approach to music. The albums song titles do indeed, in my mind, conjure up images of their surroundings, improvisations, free expression & train of thought.

White Manna 'ARC'

White Manna begins with the title track ARC which glides in with an eight minute upbeat swirling ocean spray of crashing symbols and guitar loops carving sounds that bounce off drummer Tavan Anderson’s distinctive driving beat. This instrumental ARC delivers & sets the tone for the nine track ‘not concept album per se’ according to the press release, but concept album in the Eno sense I guess. The trumpets on ARC veer off into the distance accompanied with twanging Johnny Webb bassy progressive heavy riffs & hollow cosmic synths.

On to Mythic Salon, a driving keyboard/synth lead and Eno style/art of noise progression with hints of rhythmical train like progressions, distant vocals hovering, ending with brass trumpet sounds, not unlike Miles Davis. Onwards with the meditation of Pilgrim’s Progress, traces of Hawkwind-esque Space Ritual style psychedelic rock meets atmospheric jazz structures. Repeated patterns twist & turn with rolling synths, think Mahavishnu Orchestra’s space fusion cluster jam vibes that catapults you into metagalactic inner space.

swirling ocean spray of crashing symbols and guitar loops carving sounds that bounce off drummer Tavan Anderson’s distinctive driving beat…

Pollen Ball is up next offering a welcome relief and is a more minimal fifty second electronic interlude. Painted Cakes then interjects with a jibbering unearthly sound from a distant planet, perhaps somewhere in the mind of Frank Herbert’s space navigation. Zosser gives us a more traditional song format. The projectile vocals from David Johnson (who‘s contribution to the keyboards is an evident thread throughout the album) have echoes of a vague Mark E Smith style meets Dave Brock with a space rock proto punk strain from Anthony Taibi’s guitar heavy sonics.

Soft Apolcalypse with a sweet twinkling chimes intro offers a soft blue whale noise sci-fi interlude. The minimalistic psychedelic sounds of Surfer Moron brings hypnotic jazz psych progression teamed with a brass section creating harmonies. The synth culminates with endless peaks that seem orchestrated, rather like a royal philharmonic structure for a moon dreamscape film score. Distant bass drum pedal in sync with a Gustafson Love Is The Drug style bass guitar from Johnny Webb and a whopping ten minutes of space beach witchcraft. The album leaves us with Sailing Stones, a short but sweet moon beaming satellite fades out, a progressive conclusion to this beach bay space adventure meditation.

I’m feeling rather relaxed in a subjective, astral projective way after the meditative journey of ARC. The album was recorded at guitarist Anthony Taibi’s 3D Light Studios in Humboldt County, California & will be released on the 28th August via Cardinal Fuzz, the much loved British label based in Yorkshire, home of all things psychedelic, space, kraut and garage rock, and in conjunction with Centripetal Force Records for North America.

Label: Cardinal Fuzz | Centripetal Force Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Asha Chandragiri