White Noise Sound is the eponymous debut from a Swansea-based six-piece who specialise in blending krautrock and wide-eyed psych-rock. It’s an impressively produced debut, with everything sounding fulsome. The way the bass kicks in and shifts the track onwards on the BRMC-esque opener Sunset turns out to be a statement of intent.
Much of the press surrounding the band has focused on the more opiated aspects of their sound, and there is a real sense of hypnotic power in their playing which never deteriorates into dull repetition. It is however about the state of mind they conjure rather than how it is reached. From the opening electronic pulses and drones of It Is There For You, to the almost feverish whispered vocals there is something otherworldly present. But the real strength of the record is that it is able to drag you into its atmosphere even when listening as sober as a judge.
Fires in The Small Sea features spoken word lyrics atop more cosmic shimmering and acts as a handy breather before There is No Tomorrow – possibly the defining track of the record and a good starting point for those not yet acquainted with the band. A deft simple guitar riff, those urgent vocals and the by now familiar subtlety the band manage to create build until some surprisingly anthemic brass arrives to pull the track to its euphoric conclusion.
WNS are clearly a band who know what they do best, thinking nothing of the eight minute Blood (reprise) being double the length of the preceding Blood as they swap the swagger of the former for blissful ambience and an eventual deluge of distortion. This is a trick that pops up throughout the album and, when the fuzz-drenched guitars kick in, it’s as if after tempting you in with whispered promises White Noise Sound have decided it’s time to take charge and almost physically pick you up and take you far away.
No Place To Hide adds sitars and bouncing guitars to the palette alongside some particularly mystic vocals. Such blissful psychedelia might come off as disingenuous at times if it wasn’t so well done.
Instead of sparse, dusty highways, White Noise Sound manage to project images of dimly lit urban streets, headlights reflecting on glass buildings and the tension that only really exists in areas that bristle with people. If there’s been a reason that British guitar acts can be overwhelmed and outclassed by their North American counterparts it’s because they are at times prone to not look beyond their surroundings and can be too parochial. But White Noise Sound is an album that shows ambition; not to fill stadiums but to make the biggest, loudest and most intensely visceral noise that the band can – just six people on a stage or in a room, escaping mundane surroundings and celebrating being alive.
Critics may cry that influences are worn too obviously on the sleeve, but such is the execution in the ideas that this doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. (In Both) Dreams and Ecstasies is the most indebted to Spacemen 3, but is absolutely collosal and, while the more swaggering numbers that hint at Brian Jonestown Massacre help to keep things grounded and offer some semblance of balance, it’s when they really reach for the stratosphere that the record really shines.