Wo Fat – The Black Code

(Small Stone)

I’m going to go ahead and label Texans Wo Fat the most dependable band in rock. Four utterly belting albums into their career as bona fide vintage stone rock riffwrights, they show no particular signs of changing gear. And why should they?

Global interest is peaking in these underground stalwarts, with appearances at Roadburn and Desertfest on the slate for April 2013. Meanwhile, stone rock seems to have some vague cachet with the hipster elite at the moment; so if you want to get in on the ground floor of something and trump the scene-chasers at their own game, now’s the time.

Thing is, the music biz being what it is lately, Wo Fat are asking for some help to get their trans-atlantic riff-trip off the tarmac. On their Kickstarter, you’ll find a bunch of exclusive loot for contributors, as well as a promise of a full European tour built around their gigs at the two main tentpoles of the stone rock season. I’d recommend kicking in some money, because everyone should just do what I say without really even thinking about it.

Anyway, The Black Code.

Solid. Dependable, like I said. Wo Fat set out to achieve an idealised form of heavy duty 70s rock, drawing on all the mainstays you’d expect: Hendrix, Sabbath, Grand Funk, etc. As usual, though, there’s a heavy tendency toward loose, jammy builds and tapers, rolling through hazy riffs, swerving grooves and hot, dripping bass fuzz. Wo Fat don’t muck about with pop songs, either. Three of the five tunes here top 10 minutes.

In essence, you’ve got five ultra-tight, crushing hard rock tunes, bobbing about in a swamp of moody psychedelic blues. Sleep of the Black Lotus, for example, chimes in with a minute’s worth of drifting chords and rumbling toms, before popping into a groovy verse-chorus-verse song-type thing, and then beginning what, for any other band, would be the traditional outro climax. Here, that’s just the prelude to another riff, a fresh groove. As it turns out, we’re only halfway through the track.

Shard of Leng, by contrast, loads the jamming front and rear, sandwiching the two-minute sing-song bit. It does more or less all the same things as everything else on this album, so I can’t really tell you precisely why Shard of Leng is my favourite song here, but it is. Maybe it’s just the way the different sections emerge out of each other, or maybe it’s that the riffs are the best. It’s good, okay.

Lost Highway and Hurt at Gone don’t really muck about with the jammy stuff. The former is a meaty five-minute rocker with a throbbing bottom and an elasticated chorus, while the latter is not unlike Phantasmagoria from their last record; another chunk of heavied-up bar room blues, except the bar is sinking into a quicksand of PCP and LSD.

That’s about as much as I have to say, because like it or not, Wo Fat do what they do, and they do it very well indeed. If you like what they do – and of course you do – then you should like this.

Also, click the link and give them some money because I want to see them live.




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