Wheel Works, The - How To Fly A Washing Machine

Year of Release: 2004
Label: India Records
Catalog Number: IR71002
Format: CD
Total Time: 77:14:00

It had been over twenty years since I took my last "trip" - spins of Hendrix, Spirit, Doors, etc, notwithstanding - but in 2003 The Wheelworks knocked me for a Moebius loop. Flash forward to 2005 and The Wheelworks are still sending me places that I don't go by choice, but love to be when I get there. Recorded between 2001-2003, How To Fly A Washing Machine, highlights The Wheelworks at their trippy best, jamming through a set of heady studio improvs that showcase the group's originality and quasi-psychic ensemble talents.

"Heady studio improvs?" you ask. Yep, that's what I said, so quit your groaning about throwaways that weren't good enough to make it on to a "real album." If you want to know just how good a band really is, you listen to their rehearsal jams. In the case of The Wheelworks, How To Fly A Washing Machine proves that these guys are, at the very least, in touch. The group psyche is uncanny and the interplay is virtually seamless; there's no doubt that every man knows his role in The Wheelworks scheme of things. And it's this zeitgeist that makes each jam a gem in its own right: The pieces range in length from the brief ("Francisco's Teacup", "Lake Travesty" Parts I and II) to the epic ("Free The July Nine") and, in some cases, represent fully developed songs that bathe in the heyday of psychedelia while swimming in the river of modern revivalism.

That said, I'll swear that The Wheelworks paid a lot of attention to their parents' record collections because influences are all over How To Fly A Washing Machine. From the repetitive bass and drum charts to the spacey keyboards, guitars, and vocals, it seems that The Wheelworks have immersed themselves in the work of the psychedelic gods of yore. There are moments when Steven Higginbotham simultaneously channels Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison, while guitarists Chad Fontenot and Chris Maness freakishly recall (the late, great) Randy California and Jorma Kaukonen. These elements are most apparent on "Free The July Nine," a lengthy jam propelled by the meaty work of bassist Guiseppe Ponti and drummer Nathan Maness. Things get decidedly trippy with "Seismic Seamonkey" which takes off on Jefferson Airplane's "Embryonic Journey," then completely surprises the listener with some grooving space rock a la Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra," only to segue into the title jam, a Doors-style epic reminiscent of "The End" and "Season of The Lizard" (without the screaming). "Lake Travesty," a three-part epic, brings Higginbotham's violin into the mix to joust with the guitars, revealing a Mahavishnu-esque intensity.

There's plenty more to say about How To Fly A Washing Machine, but that would just be gushing. As much as I love The Wheelworks, I love How To Fly A Washing Machine even more. The Wheelworks are carving out a unique niche in modern rock by delving into the edgy, otherworldly beauty of psychedelia. If you enjoy, enjoyed, or are curious about taking trips through starry space, then pick up the manual and learn How To Fly A Washing Machine - it's a mindblowing ride.

[The Wheel Works dissolved, although their music available as free downloads; Higginbotham resurrected the band, sort of, as The Wheel Workers (www.thewheelworkers.com) -ed.]

Walking Backwards (3:46) / Crawling (5:42) / Free The July Nine (16:30) / Shoreline (3:22) / Francisco's Teacup (2:12) / Seismic Seamonkey (4:56) / How To Fly A Washing Machine (12:08) / Lake Travesty: Part i (2:48) - Part ii (2:49) - Part iii (7:33) / Open Invitation (10:02) / In The Breeze (7:26)

Chad Fontenot - guitars
Steven Higginbotham - violin, keys, vocals
Chris Maness - guitars, vocals
Nathan Maness - drums, cymbals
Giuseppe Ponti - bass

The Wheel Works (2003)
How To Fly A Washing Machine (2004)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: March 6th 2005
Reviewer: David Cisco

Artist website: www.wheelworkstheband.org
Hits: 496
Language: english


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