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 change-up, 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.