October 11, 2005

Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice "Buck Dharma"

I am going to be straight up and say that the Wooden Wand story makes no sense. In my humble opinion, it comes across like a put-on, and as such, it really doesn't have much to do with the actual MUSIC. This New York collective fits in nicely with the Devendra/"freak folk" scene, because certain characteristics certainly apply to Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice: a weird back story, odd music that's built on a folk foundation, but sung with, ahem, "unique" voices, odd musical arrangements and general weirdness. These bands often go to great pains to align themselves with psychedelic folk and rock, usually seeking inspiration with obscure folk artists and bands of the late 60s and early 70s.

Buck Dharma is Wooden Wand's latest release, but "latest" is a relative term. First of all, this band releaes alot of things, in the form of Cd-R's and vinyl-only records, as well as tour-only albums. Secondly, Buck Dharma is actually a reissue of a limited-edition two-LP set from a few years ago. It's easy to see how this record worked as a vinyl release, because it's somewhat of a difficult listen. Most of the nine songs on the album extend well over the five minute mark, with two of them being ten minutes long. On vinyl, there would be a nice division of tracks, to be appreciated in bite-sized listening portions, but on CD, it's just one long, hazy jam session. Sadly, songs like the pretty "I Am The One I Am & He Is The Caretaker of My Heart" and "Arisen From The Ashes" are buried treasures underneath a pile of less captivating, repetitve jam-rock numbers like "Satya Sai Scupetty Plays 'Reverse Jam Band'" and "Owl Fowl," long, monotonous numbers that simply test the listener's patience.

Though their live performances are much more traditionally folk-based, and they're capable of making pretty folk-rock, Buck Dharma is clearly a moment of free-rock experimentation for this 'freak-folk' band. Whether or not it's something you'll dig depends on your tolerance. Perhaps, though, Buck Dharma is a better on vinyl than a CD? Perhaps. Buck Dharma is a relic that's recommended only for the faithful.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://woodenwand.sinkhole.net/
Label Website: http://www.5rc.com

No comments: