KID SHIRT

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

WOODEN WAND & THE OMEN BONES BAND: "HORUS OF THE HORIZON"

"Horus of the Horizon" (by W. Wand and the Omen Bones Band aka Keith Wood & Satya Sai) is first out the box from the 3-Lobed Records subscription series...



The god Horakhti or Harakhte or Heraktes (Horus of the Horizon) is usually depicted as a falcon or a hawk, or as a man with the head of a hawk...Horus was not only a god of the sky but the embodiment of divine kingship and protector of the reigning pharaoh...Horus of the horizon is one of Horus' many manifestations: Horus at Heliopolis, linked with Ra in the sun cult. In this form he is associated with the rising sun.



This CD is dedicated to Bobby Beausoleil (aka "Good Sun")... so, yeah, heliocentric metaphors aplenty here w/ the sun/sunrise motif referring to light (divine or otherwise), and illumination (spiritual/philosophical or just gaining personal knowledge/insight) and/or awakening from slumber/darkness. "Wand Arise!" for example is James' memo-to-self to be more aware/more loving/more alive... an early-morning rallying-call to his own psyche.

The songs are lovingly-recorded, (mostly) stripped-back gtr/vox strumdowns; a logical book-end to his "Harem of the Sundrum & the Witness Figg" vinyl LP...'cept for: "Ancestral Mem'ry #4" wh/ is a softly-b/eautiful blissssssssss'd-out psychedelic echo-blues instr. jam that makes me want to slowly levitate ev/rytime I hear it...this album is personal, yet catchily commercial, w/ lyrics that step in & out of the light, a zillion (light-)years from the sprawlingly abstract free-jams of a live Vanishing Voice set or the fuzz-drenched frazzled intergalactic acid-biker blues of Zodiacs...there's an edge to his voice here wh/ says he means business...

James T has revived the forgotten art of poetic procrastination as practiced by Dylan in his prime... no one (in the mainstream, at least) seems to use the songform to complain any more, but let's not confuse the righteous act of complaint w/ whining (as elevated to an artform by white post-Radiohead poshboys who make money for EMI by pretending to empathise w/ our relationship problems and mid-life crises)...

Worthy Red Wedge style procrastination, as utilised by th' Bragg & Weller brigade, was paint-stripped of poetic frippery and playful wordplay by Punk's reductive anti-bullshit blowtorch...I mean, poetry's fer girls, right?..s'okay for Patti Smith to talk about Verlaine (no, not Tom) back in the day, but it's not manly, is it?...in the Punk era, any tension in the tunes came from the music's rigid muscularity, its directness, its aggression (and, in the Post-Punk era, it's uptightness, its angularity)... not from metaphoric undertows or layered meanings...nah, Dylan-style procrastination was banned under the new regime and wittily-spiteful put-downs and wordsmithery were packed away in the bottom-drawer as Zimmerman's influence on the Glam generation (Bowie, Hunter, Steve Harley...) began to wane....obv. some exceptions, tho'...H. Devoto comes to mind w/ his Proust & Dostoevsky fetishes (and thru him, Morrissey, who shamelessly stole but w/out the s/vage wit and the visually invocative wordscapes...)...Interestingly, wasn't Weller called the Bard of Woking and Bragg, the Bard of Dorking or something similar (okay, maybe I'm making that up)...? Yet bard is not a word you'd associate w/ either of these guys, yet, in invoking those nicknames, there's seemingly a need to be associated w/ the poetic on some level or other, yet it's immediately auto-sabotaged by the inclusion of 'Woking'...back then, there was an obsession w/ the authenticity of the ordinary from which only David Bowie was exempt (probably a Glam Hero hangover thing)...anyone suspected of being an intellectual was tried by Punk's kangaroo-court; David Byrne avoided this by pretending to be mad; other opt-out strategies included whacky/zany-ness, pretending to be David Bowie, or both.

These days, Corporate Rock/Pop refuses to complain. It's too scared that it might upset its boss, get told off or fired. There's been some sort of paradigm shift here; once upon a time, Rock/Popstars were expected to complain...Apart from The Dixie Chicks (and more power to their banjo-weilding elbows), everyone was too careerist or scared to make a fuss about you-know-what...oh, and, uh, Radiohead, who, despite their best intentions, inadvertently created the template for aspirational platinum-selling whiners the world over...

Where was I? Oh yeah...

Wand's brought back a style of accusational song-writing (that again can be traced back to Dylan) and deadpan delivery wh/ he combines w/ poetically quasi-apocalyptic lyrics that are both funny and darkly sour...there's a surreal lilt to his words; he likes to swish 'em in his mouth like cheap wine a micro-second b/fore spitting them out...the effect is less a punch, and more of a leering twist of the knife. It's a neat effect.

His accusational narrative is successfully directed here at a variety of victims, including himself, but there's also a grim (Jim Gyspy) humour at play that makes me laff out loud. For me, the album's high-light (and one I'm going to be returning to many times, I'm sure) is "War Star Days", a sort of updated post-millennial version of "Masters of War" wh/ packs the twisted mescaline-tinged lyrical edge of "Hard Rain" w/out sounding remotely like either of them. It's a joy to listen to as it picks off its targets w/ expert precision, taking oblique pot-shots at the Bush Administration and the self-obsessed hordes of sleeping-dead that currently populate the malls and car-showrroms of America & Europe...

There's too many great couplets here to document them all...

"Your prophecies and hunches I followed to the letter/I'm left to wonder how Christ himself could've loved ya better"

"We watched the sun for orders/like a tribe of drunk Apaches"

"We beat the drums and rhythms and patronised the local pagans/ and filled the fortune cookies w/ revolutionary slogans"

"Some compromisin' photo of the Mighty Shit Disturber/ the very face of privilige on a ski-chair w/ his father"

"And if one man only blathers and another man just kills/ who then will remain behind to purchase all these automobiles/ At the committee that disassembles I sat in and I listened/ And couldn't form an argument against any reason given"

But there's a almost PKDickian shift of narrative-tense at points, as if we've suddenly zoomed out and we're now looking back on how bad things used to be, so there's hope at the heart of this song, but unlike the rose-tinted optimism of the 60s, this is tinged w/ a sense of realism...there's a feeling that we can win, that we can beat these fuckers and exit from this dark age, but only if we're prepared to fight this time.

"O, them dayssss...I barely remember those War Star days."

Time to wake up, people.