White Manna plays space rock using a scorched-earth
policy. The Arcata, California, quartet may telegraph where
they’re coming from and where they’re going to take you
with their track titles, but knowing the itinerary doesn’t
dampen the thrill of their excursion into stellar depths.
Opening track “Acid Head” is not false advertising. It begins with an amiable boogie-rock amble before tumescing
into stentorian, Loop-like riffing. You know that you can
count on White Manna enveloping your head in the Asheton brothers’ genius string thuggery and convulsing you
with the primordial throb harnessed by the Stooges (and,
later, Hawkwind), before sonic irony was invented.
For most of White Manna, the group focuses on mantric
riffs that accelerate into speed-freak, headbanging frenzies. But on “Don’t Gun Us Down,” they throw a changeup, setting the science-fictional scene with billowing solar
winds before shifting into a mantric cruiser over which a
wah-wah guitar articulates a hedonist manifesto—something along the lines of “fire all of your guns at once and
explode into space.”
White Manna don’t dazzle with eclecticism; instead,
they’re monomaniacs with the irrepressible ability to soar
out of the mundane and into the unknown via tried-and-true
methods upgraded to modern 21st century specs.