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Instrumental band Woodsman's natural beauty is a shoegaze grain and its increasingly complex songs


Chris Parker June 3rd, 2010

Woodsman with Tjutjuna9 p.m. TuesdayBill & Dee's Tavern311 E. Main, Normanwww.myspace.com/universecitynormanSometimes less is more, particularly when it comes to music. In the case of Denver instr...

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Woodsman with Tjutjuna
9 p.m. Tuesday
Bill & Dee's Tavern
311 E. Main, Norman
www.myspace.com/universecitynorman

Sometimes less is more, particularly when it comes to music. In the case of Denver instrumental quartet Woodsman, the absence of vocals makes it easier for the mind to wander unfettered the broad, drifting expanse of its undulating soundscapes.

The last decade has seen an explosion in the number of instrumental groups, from tension-wielding, post-rock/metal acts such as Explosions in the Sky and Pelican, to the cinematic epics of Sigur Rós and the sleepy ambient washes of Eluvium and the Album Leaf. While Woodsman has some things in common with these, far greater influences are spacey psych-rockers Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, and other such '80s and '90s shoegazers. Another important inspiration are movie soundtracks, as most of the band studied filmmaking.

"Instrumental music is wholly visual, so in that respect, it definitely relates to our backgrounds in filmmaking," said guitarist Trevor Peterson.

The band formed when Peterson and drummer Eston Lathrop merged with Dylan Shumaker and Mark Demolar's guitar/drum duo after jamming together, creating a two drum/two guitar outfit. (They do rotate at times to other instruments, such as bass.) It just sort of happened, and the musicians let things evolve naturally without ever verbalizing an approach or direction for the music.

"We have some common ground with influences, and they bleed into what we do, but it's really four heads coming together and doing what we can do. We don't try to force anything. Whatever comes out, comes out," Peterson said. "We like making music to heighten people's consciousness, or kind of escapist music."

Last year Woodsman recorded its debut EP, "Indoor Days," and followed it in December with the full-length "Collages." It's an apropos title, given the way tones overlap in forging a heady, oceanic thrum. It's a dreamy concoction that makes even more sense when Peterson admits to possessing a medical marijuana card, and observes that everyone in the group enjoys altering their consciousness in a variety of ways.

Living in Denver, the members obviously are accustomed to the beauty of the surrounding mountains, which also seems to inform the music. Indeed, "Collages" was recorded in a recently foreclosed cabin near a mountain resort above Evergreen, Colo. Lathrop, who has a degree in sound engineering, brought his equipment, and they recorded the album live in just four days.
Woodsman recently released the "Mystery Tape" EP, culled from recording sessions last fall. Planning to begin work on a new LP, the musicians wanted to clear out any leftover material. Listeners can expect a wider palette on that album.

"We're incorporating a lot of different sounds, not just straight guitar and drums," Peterson said. "That's the thing about music: As it goes along, you acquire more instruments and more tools, so you kind of expand that way. We're definitely moving away from being all-instrumental. I think we've always wanted to incorporate different sounds and not just be stuck with one sound." "Chris Parker
 
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