A number of reviews of this latest album by Californian five piece White Manna have inevitably rested on their space rock credentials in relation to prime movers of the genre, Hawkwind. While this is understandable it is, in my view, also a little unfortunate because I rate this album as being significantly better than anything that the dark lords of light and chaos have produced rendering comparisons useful in terms letting the reader know what to expect but not really communicated the sheer power of this album.
For those of you who have just spat out your vino give me a moment to explain…you should drink up your wine because with this space trip by White Manna, the Universe is in for a treat.
White Manna have produced something that is in many places like space rock in tone, especially title track opener and the latter part of ‘Dunes”. ‘Pan’ is a fantastic and ferocious track which clicks you into the acid tinged psychedelic groove from the outset and grabs your attention in the way few tracks do. The fact that I was totally sold on this album within the first minute tells you something about Pan’s sheer musical muscle and the clarity of the band’s vision.
This is not just a space rock album though. It has teeth, real punk teeth. It has teeth in the way that The Seeds, The Stooges and The Damned have teeth; something which is particularly evident on ‘Dunes I’, with its humongous all destroying riff’ and the magnificent ‘Evil’, both of which rock out with real attitude and power. This all comes together very forcefully with ‘Beta Travellers’ which does not so much fuse as slams together the space rock and punk elements to produce a ride that is so exhilarating as it builds and builds towards a climax that leaves you wanting more…which is exactly what you get with ‘Eshra’ a superb track which would please fans of bands like Hookworms and Hills with its wah wah immediacy and drone, probably the track that would be most recognisable to fans of White Manna’s previous work.
In a sense there is nothing new in this album. The elements that it draws from are nothing new in the canon of post-blues music, but there is an alchemy at work here that has brought together the familiar and created something totally thrilling. This is a fucking great rock album. Period!