Naam: live@the Wheatsheaf, Oxford, June 2013

Rock action beckons when Naam take the Wheatsheaf. Beards optional.

 

 

 

 

You check the gig listings.

You see the phrases HEAVY PSYCHEDELIA and DRONE CORE BEHEMOTHS next to a band’s name in a preview.

You don’t know the band.

But this sounds promising.

No, this sounds unmissable – colossal drone AND transcendence? In the same night? At the Wheatsheaf?

No-brainer. Naam are a band I’d never heard of but there’s no way I was missing that.

Didn’t manage to see the first support band but the second support, Oxfordshire three-piece Caravan of Whores, made an immediate impact. Again, not a band I knew. The singer looked familiar. But that’s because I’d seen him unloading a van of gear (musical) on the High Street a few hours earlier.

Onstage, it’s muscular mid-tempo riffs they unload, riffs that reference 90s stoner yet are anchored by downer roots – less blues, more blackened. A few escapist psyche-jam flourishes and tasty time changes show that the Whores have the chops to shift their doom-riff devotion into something more textured.

And so to Naam, four unassuming fellas from Brooklyn signed to Tee Pee Records, the label that put out Sleep’s restored Dopesmoker record a decade ago.

Not for them the monolithic bludgeon of Matt Pike’s crew, though. No, these guys are a less singular musical proposition than that, preferring instead to embark on lengthy light-dark excursions that embrace Pink Floyd’s expansive moods but add a little heft.

With the odd nod towards post-Sleep mantra gods Om, as on Skyscraper, and an ever-present keyboard swirl, Naam craft some seriously free-flowing currents to carry you off and away. Tracks like Vow and Beyond bring the band’s tougher edge and Hawkwind pulse to the fore, while elsewhere they flit with ease between tempos, moods, density and space. Ebbing heavy prog with a psychedelic wash: that’s what fills the Wheatsheaf tonight.

Which makes the pre-gig drone core tag a bit …  off. SunnO))) and Ufomammut they ain’t.

But classic spacerock trippers they definitely are. If Black Mountain at their Bright Lights heaviest or Crippled Black Phoenix at their most Floydian make it onto your playlist, Naam are well worth checking. Keep your eye on ‘em.

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