I love what No Wukkas do; The only problem I really have with their wonderful music is defining it in any precise way. This might be defined as a ‘reviewer’s problem’ rather than a listener’s problem; the listener only has to decide whether they like it. I guess I could probably define what they do as being broadly psych; except this isn’t really enough, sadly. As we will see in this review.
‘THT’ brings me another musical facet of the band’s sound. Yep, it’s within that psych area but it has Punk, raw R’n’B and even some Madchester elements. Now to me some parts of this bring to mind John’s Children (a band that Marc Bolan was a member of before going solo) a band who did raw garage-y psych R’n’B before this was a thing. For those of you to who this is a meaningless music reference – although I do urge you to check out John’s Children – it might be better to imagine this track as a whirling maelstrom of ever shifting sound.
Next up is ‘Sick Stan’, a song about an ‘encounter with an awful guy at the Brudenell Social club. Just like the song, he demanded attention from everyone in the room’. There are shades of Zappa – in the guitar sound and the semi-spoken vocals, odd hints of early Black Sabbath – you know those more psychedelic tracks from the first album, a sprinkle of Gong and finally, but not least, strange and challenging progressive jazz-rock.
‘Everybody’s got a price’ leaps, with both feet, into what I might describe as acid psych pop-rock. Yes really, this track is poppy. It has a beautiful tune that’s hugely earwormy, far out retro keyboards, that big sound that West Coast psych pop had and a hint of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac. It also has this really funky jazzy bass playing that at times is so weird compared to what it’s playing under that it blew my mind.
And now to the suitably epic ‘Gaudete’. A track that starts with some fabulous psych rock noodling, builds to psychedelic classic rock… and then. Well, it explodes into a ridiculously mind blowing punky take on acid garage; like the Prunk sound of Cardiacs (a word coined to encompass their punk progressive music sound) but with more way out acid rock keyboards. What this clumsy attempt to describe the track doesn’t tell you is that the experience of listening to the gorgeousness of this instrumental track will lead to an explosion of sonic joy like nothing you’ve heard before.
Before I conclude I need to address something. A friend described the band’s sound as being a bit ‘crate digger-y’ – an accusation he also made about the Dukes of the Stratosphere (basically XTC doing psychedelic pop and rock). By this he means that the band have dug through crates of broadly psych music and ‘assembled’ a sound out of those. It almost goes without saying that I disagree. The thing is that all music builds on influences from music that came before. You might hear the influences of certain artists – and these might not be the same ones as me or anyone else – in No Wukkas’ sound but how they put these together is their sound. Or to put it another way, they might be using the same ingredients as other people but they are using their own cooking method and spicing it up with their own secret recipe sauce.
That done, let’s get on with the review.
I love a band who, within a broad musical spectrum, are prepared to take their sound in different directions and push the sonic envelope. No Wukkas do more than push the envelope, they break through it and strike out into unexplored space. They do this with an ease that is simply astounding. Their music is complex but at the same time it’s wonderfully organic, raw and exhilarating. It satisfies both the listener who wants to submerge themselves into the musical nuances, and the listener who just wants to freak out.
If you’re not on the No Wukkas train, get on board with this mind blowing EP. If you’re already on board, you know the drill. This will shatter your mind into a million tiny pieces of musical joy.