From the very first note in the opening track of Wozniak’s new EP, Pikes Peak, I knew that I was in for something great. I’d heard murmurings around the internet, especially up on the Twittersphere, about this band — constant chatter about a proper shoegazing band playing shoegaze the way it’s meant to be played — but couldn’t find any music.
Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland, Wozniak are a breath of fresh air to this listener. They are a four piece band, formed in 2012, and are, in their own words, “working hard to cause terminal tinnitus through the medium of epic, effects laden guitars, bamboozling bass and pounding drums” — a feat which is by no means easy in this modern day, washed down, re-hashed trite that they call the shoegazing scene. This is old school shoegaze. I’m hearing Loop, Lush, MBV, Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive. and The Telescopes — all bands that got me excited about music in the 80’s/90’s and indeed bands that i started playing on The Quiet Room for Radio Aktiv, in the early months of the show. It’s not that often that a band really grab me and shake out memories of early 90’s gaze, but Wozniak have managed.
Having been around to see the end of the first wave of shoegaze in the late 80’s (where Cocteau Twins, For Against, and Jesus And Mary Chain were a constant on my turntable), and the early 90’s assault on my cranium by Loop, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride etc., etc., you can bet that from the very first listen to Pikes Peak, I got über excited about how good it really is. It sucks you in and caresses your ear drums in preparation for the sonic blast that’s to come.
“El Maresme,” the lead track from the EP, is sheer musical brilliance. Weighing in at 6 minutes 59 seconds, this track swoops and soars like an eagle. Layers of lush guitars explode into the atmosphere sitting atop a steady bass and drum pattern that somehow seems to keep the whole show fixed fast to the earth. Add a dreamy vocal into the mix and we’re instantly transported to a different world. A world where sonic layering is king! This is shoegazing at its very best! The EP powers along and stuffs its second track, “Paper Hat” (a track that has that Slowdive feel to it, but with a driving pulse that’s straight out of the MBV mould) in our faces. It’s a brilliant instrumental and another treat for fans like me — a reminder of how it should be done.
Track 3 is immense! — “Kreuzberg” has instrumental Loop all over it. After listening to it on the headphones, I’m reminded of Loop’s epic album A Guilded Eternity and, again, I have to wonder what music Wozniak were listening to during the writing and recording stages of the EP. I’m taken aback by how good Wozniak really are. “Kreuzberg” ends with a magical piano line to settle your nerves and prepare you for the next aural onslaught. It comes in the form of “Columbo’s Car,” a monster of a track that picks you up and throws you against the wall… in a good way. It’s a bloody great track and probably my second favourite track, after “El Maresme.” It too reminds me of another great band of which I’m a big fan — Ghost Box Orchestra. Especially their 2013 LP Vanished.
A blissful track, “Gesamtkunstwerk,” the final track on Pikes Peak, has My Bloody Valentine connotations all the way through it. It loops and arcs all over and around your ear drums and, although I hate to use him as an example, it’s as though Kevin Shields himself had stuck his fingers in it and crafted the layers of sound that streak through the track. It’s a triumph, a really great track, and a fitting end to the EP.
My recommendation is that, for the total Wozniak experience, you listen to Pikes Peak with headphones on and in a darkened room. It’s just brilliantly-crafted shoegaze in its purest form! I’m impressed at Wozniak’s level of understanding, either by fluke of nature or purposely contrived, of early sounding shoegaze, and I can honestly say that Pikes Peak is a must have in any music collection.
And I’ll stand over that statement.
DEL CHANEY is a self-confessed music freak and is never far away from a turntable. He divides his time between fronting popular electronic band Analogue Wave and uncovering and actively promoting artists from all over the globe in the shoegaze, dream pop, noise-rock, & post-rock genres with The Primal Music Blog and The Primal Radio Show. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Del is a keen vinyl collector, tattoo fan, & all round good guy.