Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice - 2006 - Gipsy Freedom

"The continuing career of Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice could almost be described as that of enjoyably amused willfulness — they seem all too readily to be lumped into the neo-psych/folk collective ramalama of the early 21st century, but then they start an album like Gipsy Freedom with a song consisting of nothing but low-key free jazz sax and female singing and all of a sudden the spirit of Patty Waters reincarnated proves a better touchstone than Syd Barrett. With the sax being provided by guest Daniel Carter, the five piece band takes the title of this album seriously — in fact it could arguably be a perfect phrase for their career of multitudinous releases, labels, and incarnations. Two lengthy explorations provide near bookends for the album: "Didn't It Rain" is part steady pluck-and-drone, part scrabbling collapse, while the twice as long "Dead End Days With Caesar" has a great stoned-poetry rap which Iggy Pop probably would love to use sometime if the reunited Stooges ever did a show of nothing but "We Will Fall." In contrast are two tracks under two minutes, including "Don't Love the Liar," which might be as close as Wooden Wand get to a garage/punk number — at least, in an alternate universe, and with a suddenly shrill start to the chorus. The various explorations throughout reach a level of exultance that show the group is much more than just a bunch of folks thinking the height of improvisation is a drum circle: "Hey Pig He Stole My Sound," with its collage of melodies and clattering beats culminating in a final minute of fierce, insistent rhythm, while the skeletal death folk of "Dread Effigy" has all sorts of drone, feedback, and more lurking in the mix which evolves into a richer, wordless singalong by the end of the song." ~ AMG