Posts Tagged ‘Ripley Johnson’

 

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It is impossible to talk about modern psychedelic music without mentioning Ripley Johnson. As bandleader of Wooden Shjips and one half of Moon Duo, Johnson has continually charted new cosmic paths that expand on the language of the genre. With Rose City Band, Johnson’s songwriting and beautiful guitar lines take center stage, the veil of psychedelia notably drawn back. While his vocal treatment would be recognizable to any Wooden Shjips fan, the sparseness of the instrumentation lays bare the beauty of his writing. Shimmering guitar lines are free to shine, buoyed by driving rhythms. New to the mix are arrangements and instruments drawn directly from classic country, resulting in songs with more than a hint of twang.

Rose City Band started purely as a recording project, with Johnson’s role mostly obscured for the self-titled debut album. Released with no promotion, in the style of private press records, it was a liberating act, a focus on music without any expectations. Explaining it with a chuckle, Johnson elaborates, “I always would threaten to my friends that I’m gonna start a country rock band so I can retire and just play down at the pub every Thursday night during happy hour. I love being able to tour and travel, but I also like the idea of having a local band … more of a social music experience.” Freedom from expectation and obligation gave Johnson the space to experiment with new instrumentation and arrangements. The introduction of lap steel, mandolin, and jaw harp enhance Johnson’s lean guitar work with radiant overtones, Work on the album began at Johnson’s home studio in Portland during the summer, but, interrupted by touring.

The album is described this way by producer Ripley Johnson: “The band was aiming to capture a timeless, natural sound, not quite of the present, past, or future, but phasing in between the consciousness of now and the stoned dream-state of the eternal. Sort of a back porch jam just as the shrooms are starting to kick in. Handmade and human, but also cosmic and transcendental.
It’s psych rock, and difficult to describe without getting poetic; dreamy and insular, it’s easy to get lost in this album. Produced and recorded by Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips), and mixed by Chris Cohen (Captured Tracks, Deerhoof), the album finds its niche in the hazy sonic landscape of private press country and psych records, and alongside artists like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, Kenny Knight , and countless other explorers of the pastoral underground.

Buoyant and joyous, this is a captivating listen that leaves the listener yearning for more. The record is an ode to freedom, born of a musician stepping out of all routines and whose own liberation is communicated so completely in his music. in its entirety, is an emphatic statement on the songwriting power of Ripley Johnson. Johnson’s joy in every aspect of this album is delightfully infectious.

Releases May 15th, 2020

Moon Duo - Stars Are The Light (Dinked Edition)

“Stars Are the Light”, the luminous seventh album by the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marks a progression into significantly new territory. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s guitar-driven psych rock, and reached its apotheosis in the acclaimed Occult Architecture diptych, Stars Are the Light sees the band synthesize the abstract and metaphysical with the embodied and terrestrial. Branching out from Occult Architecture Vol. 2, the album has a sonic physicality that is at once propulsive and undulating; it puts dance at the heart of an expansive nexus that connects the body to the stars. These are songs about embodied human experience — love, change, misunderstanding, internal struggle, joy, misery, alienation, discord, harmony, celebration — rendered as a kind of dance of the self, both in relation to other selves and to the eternal dance of the cosmos. Taking disco as its groove-oriented departure point, Stars Are the Light shimmers with elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave. Johnson’s signature guitar sound is at its most languid and refined, while Yamada’s synths and oneiric vocals are foregrounded to create a spacious percussiveness that invites the body to move with its mesmeric rhythms. With Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at the mixing desk in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra, (known to the Romans as “The Mountains of the Moon”) the area’s lush landscape and powerful lunar energies exerted a strong influence on the vibe and sonic texture of the album. On embracing disco as an inspiration, Yamada says, “It’s something we hadn’t referenced in our music before, but its core concepts really align with what we were circling around as we made the album.

We were also very inspired by the space and community of a disco – a space of free self-expression through dance, fashion, and mode of being; where everyone was welcome, diversity was celebrated, and identity could be fluid; where the life force that animates each of us differently could flower.”

From ‘Stars Are the Light,’ out September. 27th.out on Sacred Bones Records.

wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips’ rise to prominence from the psychedelic underground to the rock and roll overground has been a steady sojourn. With each new release, the band has found new ways of transforming heady psychedelic rock into minimalist masterpieces, bridging the gap between the woozy freeness of Les Rallizes Denudes and Crazy Horse and the simplicity of Suicide and the Velvet Underground

Wooden Shjips, are from the bay-area of San Francisco, the quartet led by Moon Duo’s Ripley Johnson, release their fifth album, V., via the stalwart label Thrill Jockey Records today. As the shadows cast begin to lengthen out here on the east, this new disc’s heavy dose of warm shoegaze psych is a more than welcome companion. Embodying the psychic spectrum of a nighttime desert drive, a lost weekend in the valley of beyond, the band alchemizes atmospheric ripples of ragged glory guitar, sorcerous waves of synth, free jazz skronk, and blissed out boogies. It’s a summer-tinged collection, emitting its freak out transmissions across high noons and blood moons alike

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Spaced out rockers Wooden Shjips are back with the full length album V. True to their style, Wooden Shjips deliver with laid back jams with definite influences from Buffalo Springfield on their released song “Staring At The Sun” their their psychedelic twist. This seems to be the only limited release over at Thrill Jockey on opaque red vinyl.

Here is a little blurb about the release:

Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. The quartet of Omar AhsanuddinDusty JermierNash Whalen and Ripley Johnson augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. The songs were written during the summer of 2017 by singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural. As Ripley tells it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.

Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that influenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The basics were recorded by Jason Powers at Types Foundry Studio in Portland. The guitars and vocals were largely recorded in Ripley Johnson’s comfortable home studio. The album was mixed by Cooper Crain (Cave, Circuit Des Yeux) who the band has formed close bonds with on tour. The instructions were simple “We told Cooper to keep it really fat but to feel free to play around with the other elements, make a nice headphone mix with a lot of movement,” said Ripley, “I wanted it to be floaty because that’s kind of where my headspace was at the time.”

LP version packaged with full color artworked inner sleeve and free download card. A limited supply pressed on opaque red color vinyl and only available via Thrill Jockey mailorder or the band’s merch table.
Includes digital pre-order of V.. You get 7 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
digital album releases May 25th, 2018

“Already Gone” is from Wooden Shjips new album ‘V.’ out on Thrill Jockey Records.

Wooden Shjips’ rise to prominence from the psychedelic underground to the rock and roll overground has been a steady sojourn. With each new release, the band has found new ways of transforming heady psychedelic rock into minimalist masterpieces.

Wooden Shjips, are long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, here the band expand their sound with V. The quartet of Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, Nash Whalen and Ripley Johnson augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. The songs were written during the summer of 2017 by singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural. As Ripley tells it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.

The first single “Staring At The Sun” is a nearly 8 minute laid back, slowly building narrative, whose lyrics tell of a gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the tug of anxiety, with peaceful resistance winning the day and guiding the tone. The restless traveler Johnson gives us a few of his signature traveling songs such as “Eclipse,” and “Red Line,” both showcases for the stellar rhythm section of Omar Ahsanuddin and Dusty Jermier. Their unparalleled sense of groove and restraint leaves ample room for Nash Whalen’s keyboard flourishes. There is movement and urgency in these tracks without aggression, a rolling foundation of rhythm over which Johnson’s voice floats and elongated melodic guitar lines soar.

Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that influenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The basics were recorded by Jason Powers at Types Foundry Studio in Portland. The guitars and vocals were largely recorded in Ripley Johnson’s comfortable home studio. The album was mixed by Cooper Crain (Cave, Circuit Des Yeux) who the band has formed close bonds with on tour. The instructions were simple “We told Cooper to keep it really fat but to feel free to play around with the other elements, make a nice headphone mix with a lot of movement,” said Ripley, “I wanted it to be floaty because that’s kind of where my headspace was at the time.”

The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s.

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Releases May 25th, 2018

Moon Duo is a project of Wooden Shjips guitarist and singer Ripley Johnson. Under the Moon Duo moniker, Johnson and collaborator Sanae Yamada create expansive Krautrock influenced tapestries of warm cascading fuzz and controlled feedback, organ, and accenting keyboard. This Reissued vinyl from 2009 features  four song 12-inch is the second release and incorporates a much more concise, composed and driving sound than before. The Duo expand on ideas only hinted at on the Sick Thirst 12-inch (which is already long gone) adding a driving drum machine beat behind the thick walls of layered sound.

Following the release of Moon Duo’s wonderful recordings two-volume Occult Architecture suite, the Portland-based band are reissuing their 2009 Killing Time EP as a deluxe expanded edition with three extra bonus tracks.

Those bonus tracks, ‘Bopper’s Hat’, ‘Run Around’ and ‘Dead West Pt. II’ have never been widely available on vinyl before. The newly expanded release is also available digitally.

Moon Duo return to the road next week, kicking off a European tour including festival stops at Beaches Brew in Ravenna and Roskilde Festival.

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Meaning all things magick and supernatural, the root of the word occult is that which is hidden, concealed, beyond the limits of our minds. If this is occult, then the Occult Architecture of Moon Duo’s fourth album – a psychedelic opus in two separate volumes released in 2017 – is an intricately woven hymn to the invisible structures found in the cycle of seasons and the journey of day into night, dark into light.

Offering a cosmic glimpse into the hidden patterning embedded in everything, Occult Architecture reflects the harmonious duality of these light and dark energies through the Chinese theory of Yin and Yang. Following the Yin (feminine, darkness, night, earth) represented on Occult Architecture Vol. 1, Vol. 2 presents the Yang.

Yang means “the bright side of the hill” and is associated with the male, sun, light and the spirit of heaven, and as such Vol. 2 explores the light and airy elements of Moon Duo’s complex psyche.

“In production we referred to Vol. 1 as the fuzz dungeon, and Vol. 2 as the crystal palace,” guitarist Ripley Johnson explains. “The darkness of Vol. 1 gave birth to the light of Vol. 2. We had to have both elements in order to complete the cycle. We’re releasing them separately to allow them their own space, and to ensure clarity of vision. To that end we also mixed Vol. 2 separately, in the height of Portland summer, focusing on its sonic qualities of lightness, air, and sun. Listeners can ultimately use the two volumes individually or together, depending on circumstance or the desired effect.”

Vol. 2 was mixed in Portland by the band’s longtime collaborator Jonas Verwijnen.

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