New York-based psychedelic-folk collective
Wooden Wand And The Vanishing Voice
emerged slowly from the underground through a series of
cassettes and CD-ROMs, such as
Book of FM (Polyamory),
Michel's Portal and Crow Jane Variations (Fuckit Tapes),
Angel Hair (Chocolate Monk, 2002) and
Town on the Edge of Darkness (Audiobot),
that coined a tribal and dissonant form of urban folk music,
and finally debuted on CD with the spectral, angst-tinged
Xiao (De Stijl, 2003 - Troubleman Unlimited, 2005), highlighted by
the lengthy Weird Wisteria Tangles Carrion Christ But Intends No Harm
(an ethnic-jazz-psychedelic pastiche a` la
Sun City Girls), by
the eight-minute cacophonous Lions in Love,
and by the somewhat macabre
Caribou Christ to the Great Void and Cobra Christ of the Cabbages.
Their first major statement came with
L'Un Marquer Contre La Moissonneuse (Three Lobed, 2005),
containing the 25-minute Bloated Moray Elk
and the 15-minute White Fungus Bird's Nest and a Moon Pie,
two free-form soundtracks for the afterlife of drug-addicted ghosts.
Less chaotic and less psychedelic,
Buck Dharma (5RC, 2005) was influenced by the sound
of latter-day Swans, with
Jarboe-esque vocals and Michael Gira-like arrangements that culminate in
the eleven-minute Wicked World.
The group is clearly torn between the otherworldly freakouts of the past
(such as the ten-minute Reverse Jam Band)
and a new, more accessible song format
(I am the one I am and he is the Caretaker of my Heart).
The onslaught continued with Sunset Sleeves (Weird Forest, 2005).
Their percussive, demonic and distorted sound reached maturity on the
scariest excursions of
The Flood (Troubleman Unlimited, 2005), the lengthy
The Flood and Oxblood Boots, while the brief
Sunbeam Creek continued the trend towards more regular and prettier songs.
Gipsy Freedom (5 Rue Christine, 2006) was a jazzier album with
Daniel Carter on saxophone and at the same time the rocking
Don't Love the Liar and the
20-minute noise-fest Dead End Days With Caesar.
Like all prolific artists except Mozart and Coltrane, none of their
albums is truly essential, and most of their jams are simply self-indulgent.
Harem Of The Sundrum & The Witness Figg (Soft Abuse, 2005 - Time Lag, 2006) was de facto the first solo album by James Toth ("Wooden Wand Jehovah") in a relatively
traditional style of singer-songwriter. Despite the apocalyptic tone,
Toth is heir to the tradition of Leonard Cohen.
Magik Markers' drummer Pete Nolan collaborated.
Toth (still credited as Wooden Wand, but backed by the Sky High Band) then
imitated Bob Dylan on Second Attention (Kill Rock Stars, 2006), an even
simpler and more straightforward country-rock and folk-rock album.
James & The Quiet (Kill Rock Stars, 2007)
is his most straightforward collection of songs to date, some of date wirthy
of Nashville's country-pop.
The Vanishing Voice (without Wooden Wand) have released
Nordic Visions (Gypsy Sphinx, 2006) and
Stone Tablet (Important, 2007), containing the 40-minute title-track.
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