[11 February 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Woodsman’s new self-titled record veers wildly away from the glitchier expansions of its predecessor, Rare Forms. That album fell somewhere between off-kilter freak-folk and primal space-rock. The shift away from that is highlighted by the fact that this album, unlike the last one, has virtually no vocals. Instead, we get hard-charging psychedelic rock landscapes. They romp and shuffle on the sturdy ever-shifting rhythm section here, which can go from the rise-and-fall tempo of “In the End, Remember When?” to the more sinister expanse of “Loose Leaf” to the propulsive energy of “All Tangled Up” and make the disparate tempos sync up somehow.
There’s something uniform and satisfying about the sound of Woodsman, a controlled yet vital exploration of space and echo. The guitar and keyboard work here wanders and ripples over the bass and drums, though despite some solid work on “All Tangled Up” and working up some lacerating power on “Healthy Life”, the textures and atmospheres feel almost too similar across tracks. The rhythm section here keep things interesting and moving forward, and Woodsman does indeed feel like the band finding their own identity, even if they may be identifying themselves a bit narrowly at times.