Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fables of the Reconstruction: Woodsman

While on tour earlier this year, the members of Woodsman pulled off to the side of the road in New Mexico on their way to Tucson and asked a local man where they could camp. The man pointed off into the desert and said, “Just drive.” They ended up in “the most beautiful silent place,” says Trevor Peterson, who co-founded the band in Denver about four years ago. “We had a bottle of whiskey, and we sat in the sand and listened to the silence. It solidified for us why were doing this.”
Woodsman is one of the freakier psych bands out there these days. Their brand new EP Mystic Places is a sprawling head trip that ventures through dense and dark spaces of heavy guitar noise that give way to lighter, oddly familiar melodies and breathtaking rhythms.
            “Our intention is to create an environment a listener can exist in,” Peterson says. “We want people to think and have a visual experience as well as an auditory experience. It’s drug music you don’t have to take drugs to get into.”
The band came together when Peterson moved to Denver to attend film school at UCD. He had been living in Frisco, but he couldn’t get a band going up there, even though “a lot of people wanted to jam. But they only wanted to jam Phish and Dead covers, and that gets pretty tired.” In Denver, he found a kindred spirit in
fellow film student Mark Demolar, who is a fan of the more experimental side of the art, in particular the work of Stan Brakhage, who remains a huge influence for the band. “Brakhage’s stuff is so rhythmic,” Peterson says. “It’s the way we approach the art in that there’s a certain omen of chance involved when we make a song. We don’t necessarily have a goal in mind. Brakhage’s films have this quality, this movement and, with the scratching on the film, more hands-on approach, like something pulled out of the ether.”
            They recorded their first album, Collages, over the course of three days in a cabin in Evergreen. “Nothing prepared,” Peterson says. “We just came in and set up the mikes. All fun. No record deal. Nothing to stop us from doing whatever we wanted. We played for three days, and for the next month we dug out the best pieces.”
            They embarked on a heavy tour schedule, crisscrossing the country many times in pursuit of a “vision quest,” which, Peterson explains, has been about existing “in a world so dominated by technology and still have an earthly existence. We keep innovating, but we never get comfortable with any one sound. It’s like we’re trying to create a movie soundtrack for a film without film. In between their travels, they recorded a follow-up EP, Rare Forms, as well as their latest LP Mystic Places in Denver, typically writing their new material while the tapes roll. Their sound has been evolving, Peterson says. “We have been getting into darker territory,” he explains. “The early stuff was open chords, loose strumming. Now it’s heavy. Thicker riffs. More Kraut influenced than Yo La Tengo or Tortoise influenced. Less airy.” They’ve also gotten tighter: “When you play together every night for a month, there’s an unspoken chemistry that develops.”
The band relocated to New York earlier this year, after a late-summer tour that ended there. Mark, the guitar player, was already living there, and they realized if they were going to continue as a band they’d need to be in the same city.  The move has been bittersweet. “I love Colorado,” Peterson says. “I definitely see myself moving back there in a few years. But in the spirit of who we all are as people, we want to explore other areas. And New York is where all eyes are on you.”
Still, Colorado remains a major influence on their music, not only because it was the longtime home of their favorite artist, but because of “all the expansiveness. There’s a lot 

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