'Waking Moment' by Windshake
by Arron Kennon
Waking Moment, the new debut album by Bristol based WINDSHAKE, is filled with promise for the bands future. Whilst rooted in artists ranging from Jefferson Airplane to Deerhunter, the album is able to command a unique voice, successfully weaving psychedelia and folk.
The album’s opening song, Save the Cherry is a wonderful picture of the bands strengths, and perhaps the best song of the album. The melodic vocals soar above the lush and menacingly psychedelic instrumentation, and anchored by the constant guitar strums, provide multiple complimenting layers to the track. The song continuously evolves, never resting on one idea for too long, keeping the sounds fresh. Similarly, the lyrics reflect the rest of the album fairly accurately. Although never reaching any piercing heights, they always compliment the music, providing some great, though melancholic (‘I thought we were friends!’) sing-a-long lines. Don’t Rush continues in a similar vein, adding a guitar solo that deliciously looks back to David Gilmour, and ends on a despairing cry of ‘Oh Jesus’.
The folk influences really start to emerge in Sharing Machine, where they mingle with the baroque jangles of the acoustic guitar. The song moves forward at a great pace, making for a thoroughly enjoyable track, although the opening lyrics ‘dreams were battered’ tint the more cheerful instrumentals with the melancholia of the previous two songs. Independent Stones continues to push the album towards folk, though it still maintains a healthy heap of psychedelia through its wailing guitars and echoing backing vocals.
The eponymous Waking Moment breaks away from the folk influences, incorporating the hypnotic textures and almost non-existent structure that characterises space rock, though it is made markedly heavier through due to thedistortion and drumming. In fact, to even try and categorise the song could never do it justice, which is what it makes it one of the high points of the album. While it begins with a formula relatively typical of the album, around the half-way mark of this nearly 9 minute epic it begins to take you through numerous electrifying sequences, never looking back. With sprawling guitar solos, hallucinatory soundscapes and vocals, the track epitomises Windshake’s ability to take risks and have them pay off through remarkable creativity.
Along with Waking Moment, Orange Raincoat makes up the mid-point of the album, and their complete opposition to each other can be seen as a pivot of sorts. If the eponymous track reflects the peak of the albums psychedelia, Orange Raincoat sees the band fully embracing folk. The focus is returned to the singing, accompanied with the acoustic guitar and much cleaner lead, clear of the sheer instrumental expansiveness of the previous song. The interplay between the lead and rhythm guitar looks back to Neil Young and even the more folk-centred songs of the Rolling Stones. ‘Do you think you really need to look so stupid wearing that?’, he cries of the titular orange raincoat, which captures the strange humour that pervades this strangely pleasant and extremely effective song.
Perform Like Rain, opens with a return to the melancholic - ‘Maybe I should stop living cause its living that gets me down’. But the general tone of the song is far harder to place. A piano cheerfully accompanies the lyrics, which are sung with more of a spring in comparison to the other songs on the album, in spite of their subject matter. The line ‘Maybe I should start giving, cause its giving that gets me things’, perhaps bests captures the songs duality. On the other hand, Old man of the Desert abandons this tonal complexity. The highlight of the song is the chorus, with its warm chants and dreamy backing guitars. A playful guitar solo enjoyably closes the song.
Far darker territory is explored in Auditory Hallucinations. ‘I used to talk to the flesh on the wall’ introduces the grotesque and the gothic, and this is compounded with the relentless droning of the guitars. Coming after the lightest few songs of the album accentuates the effect, making it almost shocking, but successfully so. Immediately following it is Receive Me which parades an attitude of ‘that’s just life, and the way things go’, as if in submission to the darkness that preceded it, and finding peace within that. The bright plucks of the guitar throughout the song certainly add to this more positive interpretation.
Finally, we reach The Big Wheel, the last song on the album. The verse brings the soothing air of the Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe’ to mind. The peacefulness acts as if the song is reflecting on all those before it in the album. The repetition of ‘the big wheel goes on and on’ does become slightly tedious (it’s not the most exciting metaphor), especially as the previous song ended in the same fashion - the repetition of the titular lines. Nonetheless it does still stay together and functions as an appropriate concluding song - largely due to the muted chaos of the fantastic instrumental interlude before said ending.
Waking Moment sustains remarkable consistency, especially for a debut. Outside of the final song, there is very little not to like once their fusion of folk and psychedelia is embraced. The music, created by Sam Elliott, Kilian Lee and Oliver Thomas, regularly produces utterly fascinating moments, often filled with emotion, and the voice of Sam Elliott holds it all together in a unique and effective way.