White Manna: White Manna

From Heaven? California, actually...

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Who needs four chords when three will do? Possibly even two. West Coast quartet White Manna (named after either a small hamburger chain in New Jersey or the holy bread of the Israelites, depending on your cultural and dietary preferences) are the latest in a steady line of bands whose aim seems to be achieving some kind of transcendence through a repetitive barrage of cyclical riffs. They make no excuses as to what they’re about either.

Like Spacemen 3, Dead Meadow or labelmates Wooden Shjips, their debut is all about crashing noise and drilled guitars, leader David Johnson’s foot never far from a handy fuzz pedal.

Just a cursory glance through these five titles – Acid Head; Mirror Sky – is enough to give an idea as to what lurks within the grooves. Yet the real selling point of this barnstormingly great album is its tight focus and punky conviction.

There’s little or no fat here: no wanky guitar freakouts or toked-up reverie. Which makes the punishing minimalism of Keep Your Lantern Burning, all eight minutes of it, all the more thrilling. The same applies to Sweet Jesus, an even longer exercise in sustained noise that’s likely to blow cobwebs and minds with equal force.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.