Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice
L’Un Marquer Contre La Moissonneuse
Three Lobed Recordings
s befits their first official CD release (following two LPs and a handful of CD-R and cassette releases), Wooden Wand and company take advantage of the format. L’Un Marquer Contre La Moissoneuse (“One against the reaper”) shows further division between WWVV’s two personalities. Dr. Jekyll loves fanciful songs in a folk/indie tradition, but his alter-ego Mr. Hyde prefers slow-burning drone jams. The album is divided between them—two apiece.
The first of the epics, “White Fungus Bird’s Nest and a Moon Pie” opens the album on an ominous note. A bass line creeps along steadily and insistently on a bed of tape fuzz, contact-mic’d zither and buried cries. Midway through, the bass becomes many times heavier and various screeching things (woodwinds, tapes, etc.) begin to overwhelm the track. The second of the two jams is even longer at 25 minutes. “Bloated Moray Elk” takes cues from friends & compatriots Double Leopards, riding on clouds of e-bow and delay for most of its first half, while percussion, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and looped cassettes slowly enter throughout its length. Repetition is key to these pieces; stark rhythms and simple melodies drone on and reconfigure themselves. “Bloated Moray Elk” especially makes for rewarding listening, ultimately emerging as a wordless drone-hymn to the birds and trees.
The two short tracks on the album are two things: a) they’re among the best vocal tracks WWVV has yet released, and b) they’re different in style from those found on earlier releases. The first, “Counterfeit Kingdom” is deformed blues with forlorn and withdrawn moans about “neon signs.” The guitar and vocal are backed by banjo, white noise swells, and what sounds like field recordings of birds. In stark opposition to the kind of tracks they’ve offered us before (on the XIAO album), the closer is a refreshing nursery-rhyme for unaccompanied voices. Entitled “Windflower,” it is a supremely confident song about redemption.
Essentially, this is a worthwhile purchase if you’re interested in the jammier aspects of Wooden Wand. Of course if you’d prefer more song-oriented material, you’re probably better off waiting for the Harem of the Sundrum & The Witness Figg CD/LP or the Buck Dharma CD/LP—the former devoted to Wand’s solo excursions into indie/folk/blues, and the latter presenting a fusion of the two sides in a more electric setting. But for those willing to indulge their more extravagant side, you could hardly do better.
Reviewed by: Ian Johnson
Reviewed on: 2005-06-20