Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 21/4
Written by: BV on 14/09/2016 10:52:36
2016 marks the 15th year of existence for Copenhagen-based Baby Woodrose. For the duration of that time, Baby Woodrose has risen from the murkier of underground territories to near-mainstream fame and withdrawn back into the shadows of the underground – albeit not as deep as they once resided, due in part to Baby Woodrose mastermind Lorenzo Woodrose’s involvement in Spids Nøgenhat and their recent bout of mainstream success. Throughout those 15 years, a steady stream of studio albums, singles and even a live record have been released. Four years after the last ‘proper’ album “Third Eye Surgery”, Baby Woodrose are back with their 7th studio album; “Freedom”. Lorenzo has described it as a collection of modern slave-songs which hardly comes as a surprise when glancing over the album’s black power-reminiscent cover art and track titles like “Freedom”, “21st Century Slave” and “Mind Control Machine”.
In some ways, this particular album starts off as a direct continuation of “Third Eye Surgery” as “Reality” could easily sound like a track off it. Yet there are certain aspects that make it stand out as something else entirely. The spaced-out soundscape of “Reality” is in some ways more focused and stripped down (even though it may not sound like it) compared to the occasional clusterfuck of sounds found on Third Eye Surgery (cool as they were). ”I don’t believe in your concept of reality” is a profound and strong statement to open an album with, and everything from the delivery of the vocals to the execution of the song’s hook indicates that Baby Woodrose aren’t messing around. The album’s noticeably darker edge on tracks like “21st Century Slave” come as no surprise with the power of hindsight as Lorenzo Woodrose has always written about dark(er) thoughts and intertwined them with the up-beat garage psych that has become defining characteristic of Baby Woodrose. Some might recall “Chasing Rainbows”, “Waiting for the War”, “Countdown to Breakdown” and “Spinning Wheels of Fire” – all tracks that I firmly believe are rooted in the same kind of bleak outlook, even though the majority of “Freedom” as a whole serves as a much more direct approach to writing about this particular theme.
“Open Doors” retains some characteristics of early-2000's period Baby Woodrose with a catchy farfisa-lead coupled with a fuzzy guitar unfolding on a simple 4/4 beat. The track, which apparently started as more of a soul-inspired track, quickly unfolds to reveal Woodrose’s unmistakable ear for hooks as the track easily becomes the obvious hit of the album whilst segueing into “Mind Control Machine” – the first real indication of the massive freak-out that’s about to come. With “Peace” the band slows down for just a few minutes to unfold a lovely acoustic track fueled simply by a couple of guitars and Lorenzo Woodrose singing evocative lines like; ”All around there’s people laughing / all their eyes are flashing / One thousand smiles / Fragments of conversations / and situations happened in my life / When will I find peace of mind / When will I find peace of mind”. It’s a simple premise, yet one that has undoubtedly gone on to become one of the finest moments on the album – due in part to its subtlety.
By introducing the title track, Baby Woodrose’s rendition of an age-old spiritual usually known as “Motherless Child”, it is quite obvious that the Woodrose version leans heavily on Richie Havens’ legendary live performance of said track at Woodstock – this time around however, the track is just being played in a maniacal acid-punk tempo complete with fuzzy guitars, leslie- and echo-laden vocals and sense of urgency rarely equaled by others attempting the same track. Much of the same could be said about the cover-version of Fifty Foot Hose’s “Red the Signpost” which really emphasizes the latent feeling of impending doom which now practically emanates from the main riff of the track. “Mantra” reels it back in with a complete banger of a track made up of sheer catchiness, quite reminiscent of On Trial – both lyrically and musically before eventually letting go of the reins entirely in time for album closer “Termination” and its nearly 10-minutes of psychedelic freak-outs.
As far as reality goes, I’m not particularly interested in it when Baby Woodrose manages to muster up a far better offer; “Freedom” might not be a massive deviation from the general practice of Baby Woodrose, but it manages to condense the many facets of the band into one hell of a rock monster. It might not surpass the urgency and sheer influence of the legendary debut album – but no one ever said that it should. Four years was a long wait, but this was most definitely worth it.
Download: Reality, Peace, Freedom, Mantra, Open Doors
For The Fans Of: Dragontears, Telstar Sound Drone, On Trial
Release date 16.09.2016
Bad Afro Records
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