Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice - Gipsy Freedom
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Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice
Gipsy Freedom

Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice are similar to No Neck Blues Band in that they seem to be a mysterious troupe of musicians (with bizarre names like Wand Jehovah and Steven The Harvester) living in what might or might not be a sort of commune while creating music that pulls from a variety of different genres. With varying degrees of success, the group has mixed in flourishes of blues, free jazz, and psych into their already avant folk musings, and based on the couple albums I've heard from them to date, Gipsy Freedom may very well be their most stylistically varied release to date.

They waste no time in confronting listeners with something completely new, as "Friend, That Just Isn't So" opens with sparse woodwinds for several minutes before female vocals enter and mingle in improv-style ways with lyrics that border on cringe-worthy at times. At times, the interplay seems to work quite well, but as a whole the piece feels way longer than the four and a half minute running length. From there, the group gets back into more of their bread and butter, as "Didn't It Rain" blends flutes, sitar, hand-percussion, guitar feedback, and other sounds into a swirling dirge for almost nine minutes before closing out with a powerful section that pulls everything together (including some chanting vocals) in a great way.

Working in the same way as the final section of the aforementioned track, "Don't Love The Liar" finds the group unleashing some righteous fury with pummeling drums, juicy guitars, and great multi-part vocals that all swirl together into a tribal sing-a-long. Unfortunately, a majority of the rest of the album finds the group getting locked into long-form meandering free jam workouts that don't go much of anywhere a lot of the time. "Hey Pig He Stole My Sound" mixes chimes and guitar and some nice percussion together, but during the course of eight minutes just keeps going through the same iterations over and over again.

Likewise goes the druggy jam of "Sun Sets On Clarion," which again trips through some guitar fret noise, cymbal tapping wank before male vocals try to add some soulful vocals towards the end and eventually just sort of stop, even admitting "there really isn't a whole lot to latch onto here, fellas." With a group like this, it's probably wishful thinking to hope that they'd just focus a little bit more, but I inevitably always fall into that trap, only to be let down most of the time (although to be fair, Jackie O Motherfucker mostly wowed me with their last release Flags Of The Sacred Harp). If you've heard their past work and enjoyed it and are feeling adventurous, they'll no doubt carve another small slice off your brain, but others will probably want something with a bit more meat on the bones.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2006-03-02 21:35:08