KID SHIRT

Saturday, October 15, 2005

EARTH & TURF

...And this is just, well, beyond fantastic:



"Earth & Turf" from Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, available from those lovely, lovely people at Polyamory. A limited CD-r w/ a bonkers hand-painted cover: don't. even. think. about. it... just fucking buy it, you space-cadets. Given their exhausting recording/release schedule, how is it possible that WWVV are so consistantly, so constantly, brilliant and thrilling?

The core of the sprawling WWVV collective are:

Wand Jehovah (aka Wooden Wand): guitar, harmonica, lead vocals
Satya Sky (aka Satya Sai Jehovah aka Satya Sai Baba Scuppety): bass, guitar, lead vocals, art
The Harvester (aka Steven Harvest Taveniere): guitar, banjo, bass, percussion, vocals, art
Heidi Reality Diehl: banjo, mandolin, electronics, percussion, vocals, art
Glucose Crane: tapes, electronics, art

Most of them are on this recording, either mentally or physically or in some form or other, rattling, shaking, screaming and breaking things in the loveliest manner possible...aided and abetted, in this instance, by Pete Nolan, drummer of The Magik Markers. And I think Keith Wood of Hush Arbors might be in there somewhere too.

The first two tracks are studio pieces:

"Don't Love the Liar" references early Deep Purple, and I really don't have a problem with that: Satya and Wand were bigging up DP when I interviewed them briefly in 2004 for D&C (the piece didn't get used in the end, but it resurfaced here), and now I totally get it. This is a lusty, twisty, Bluesy, tub-thumping, evangelical wedge of Psychedelic Hard Rock, boyo. It's Tuff Love, baby: S-short, but oh-so sweet.

"Effigy in Dread" (I think that's the title) is simply stunning. It starts as a solemnly beautiful Skip Spence style strummalong but accrets layers of buzzing, humming astral-noise as it goes along. It sounds like someone else's song has suddenly decided to join in: something strange, lost and forgotten; something from another time and place, a different track from a different LP by another group called 'Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice' who exist in parallel to the one in our continuum. The flight-paths of their respective songs slowly intersect, but the original song eventually falls away from us and fades, leaving us with the echo of its memory, a retinal after-image of its contour, as the song's narrative is hijacked by this alterno-verse WWVV and transported across a shimmering void of voices, bells, tremulous glissando guitars and echoing, otherworldly ambience that ends, fatally, in a series of clicking switch-noises and dull clunks.

The final track is, I think, called "Escape from Magnet Mansion" and is a 35 minute plus live work-out that starts off with a swarm of bells, whirring machines and eerie echoplex'd guitar swarf. It slowly picks up speed, becoming a surging, lurching drum 'n' drone marathon that rattles and rolls its way relentlessly past lush Amazonian tributaries, spooky 1920's train-depots and abandoned steel foundaries haunted by the maimed and disfigured ghosts of dead workers. There's some beautiful, dissonant trumpet-work on display here, reminiscent of TG or PTV...imagine parts of "Heathen Earth" recast as an unsettling, drug-addled pagan ritual-cum-travelogue, an inner-mind road-trip soundtrack'd by shrill horns and atonal keyboard noise-bursts that slice their way upwards thru rasping sub-vocal groans, rattling slave-chains and collapsing piles of metal. Random blasts of noise are pumped through echo-decks with unnerving results; there are clannngs and skrunnngs as unfathomable objects collide in the dark or topple over, exhausted. (A dark, uneasy alliance is formed between opposing alien polarities; some sort of Pact is made.) There are spiteful, nervous, scratchy guitar interjections and morbid drones; wood and metal are scraped, rubbed and knocked; there are animal-like scuttling sounds and distant radio voices; people speak in tongues; spectral Bee-Bop poetry slugs it out with petulant ring-modulators and flanged organs.

But, without a map, it's easy to get completely lost inside this stuff. Time implodes and folds in on itself; it twists itself into new shapes. It...it's like being trapped in someone else's Vision-Quest....

(Imagine if 23-Skiddoo had had a kid and it smoked pot, grew its hair and stayed out late...)

...and then the audience suddenly start clapping and you come back to Earth with a bump and you remember that WWVV have actually been playing this track live, in real-time, on a stage, in front of people. Jeez...

I could write about this group 'til the cows come home. And perhaps I will. Right now, I've got five, no six, of their LPs and CDs on constant rotation and they're all different, all surprising, all fucking great. Sorry, but you're gonna be hearing a lot more about these guys on this blog.

I think I'm in love.