Two cosmic entities are definitely most responsible for my recent discovery of the band: Austin Pysch Fest (#4 Live, 2011) and the former music site Altered Zones (help them re-Kickstart).
Woodsman, "Supernal Radionics" by The FADER
That's from the Humdrum CDr (2008), earliest Woodsman I know of...
So there I was, tickets to Austin Pysch Fest 4 - with only a few of the acts being known quantities for me. Obviously Roky Erickson (#1 Live, 2009), The Black Angels (#3, 2006), White Hills (#5, 2010), and a couple more. But I had much to learn. To decide what I needed to check out at the Fest, I went on a more focused hunt for free MP3's, from every band announced. Some had none on the whole internet - notably The Cult of Dom Keller, although their video stockpile on YouTube got my attention. (See our most recent comp for a CODK mp3!)
Anyway, Woodsman stood at the far other end of the spectrum. I think I found 7 songs, totalling a bit more than 30 minutes - mostly via Altered Zones. So basically, a sampler mini-album... And they quickly became my #1 Priority to see at Austin Psych. And we saw them, and they were excellent - even more jammy and tripped out than the downloads would indicate. And we bought a bunch of vinyl - free MP3's paid off! A lot of those Woodsman mp3's have turned up on more recent blog comps too, because they just keep putting them out there.
Yet another dreambient track from the sleepy Indoor Days cassette (2008)...
These are both pretty new to me, so I'll leave it to Woodsman to explain. Per the SoundCloud set for these first two:
Woodsman was more of a circle of friends jamming in those days. The idea of a "band" didn't really cross our minds until the following Fall. We bought a mixing board and some mics and transformed our living room into a studio. Over the course of that Winter we began piecing together what would later become the "Humdrum" EP. When it was finished we booked a little DIY tour around the mid and southwest. I remember staying up until 5 am burning CD's the night before we left, putting it on in the car on our way out of Denver and listening together for the first time. Later that year while anticipating the release of our first proper record "Collages" we fired up that home studio and in one night made the "Indoor Days" EP. Those tunes just fell out of us, without any pre-concieved ideas the sound flowed from our instruments and what we needed to feel at that exact moment went to tape. Being locked inside on snowy Colorado days has this effect.History!
On to Collages (2009) - good Bandcamp there, guys. Notable for a few more 'song-y' songs, and also for an uproarious tune called "Dikembe Mutombo" (after the former Denver Nugget & Houston Rocket). I like this one quite a bit. Not sure if the vinyl was on sale at APF, but I shoulda/woulda picked it up had I known. Still kind of amorphous in places, though... The closer "Mothershift" is like 20 minutes long, dude (not completely unprecedented).
"Balance" from Mystery Tape EP (2010)
In my opinion Woodsman fully forms at this point, cohering into a distinct experimental combo. And given the existence of 3 official videos from 1 EP, I think the band felt the same way. "Balance" is a natural 'single': focused, with forward momentum, maybe even a hook. Mystery Tape opener "Beached" could have served as well. "When the Morning Comes" is a more low-key tribal-drone bliss-out, with nature films. "Smells Like Purple" sounds like some early-'70s motorik epic or maybe a distant relative of Butthole Surfers' "Psychedelic Jam." Three tunes from this EP are played on Woodsman's Daytrotter session (live 11/8/2010).
"Manual Control / Chants" from beko-34 digital single (2010)
Just found this one mere days ago, due to barely any evidence of its existence at all - so I threw together a 2-song vid! Downloadable from the beko-DSL label (pretty far towards the right). The A-side is really the only place that I can hear the much-overused Animal Collective comparison. The B-side brings a more typical mid-tempo mantra vibe, with hypnotic repetition into the horizon. Real good stuff for a random free digital single label discovery.
"Insects" 7" single (2010)
This was the lead single from the Rare Forms LP, so I'll just say that it was one of the first tunes to really catch my ear during the Austin Psych Fest preparations.
"Tone Cloak" from Tjutjuna tour split-cassette (2011)
The Woodsman side of a tour-only split-EP cassettesingle - the other side was "Songer Dance" from Tjutjuna (more info + download). For some reason, the sound patterns at the start always remind me the synth part towards the beginning of "Negativland." Not really that close, but connects for me. There's another song that uses something similar to Neu!'s drilling loop (from #3, 1972), but Woodsman puts that at the end.
Woodsman - Little Drummer Boy by firetalk
And even more recently than the #2 Albums, it's... "Little Drummer Boy" from the McGolrick Trees/Fire Talk Records holiday comp download, A Very Merry Christmas (2011). Fire Talk (FB) is a record/tape label run by one of the Woodsman, and McGolrick is "possibly NYC’s only tree stand with a Tumblr" - according to The Fader.
So that's everything that I'm aware of - leading up to, and even following after, Woodsman's two album releases from 2011: ranking #2. One final note before I start the actual Top 10 post... I really like the art style for the later Woodsman stuff. It's ironic that most of these are focused on photocollage, but their earlier album actually named Collages (2009) looks more like a Spin Art t-shirt from a suburban mall in the early-'90s. And I'll try to mention the unusual Rare Forms cover style - coming soon!