Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Coastal eccentrics Wooden Wand and Viking Moses.
Listed: Wooden Wand + Viking Moses
Wooden Wand Jehovah
Given the geographically scattered nature of Wooden Wand's normal ensemble, the aptly named 'Vanishing Voice,' it was probably only a matter of time before Wooden Wand himself found the spare time to assemble a solo record. The result - the recently released Harem of The Sundrum & The Witness Figg (Soft Absuse - is everything that you would expect, but also fairly surprising. Wooden Wand's understated, airy folk recalls quasi-contemporaries like Ben Chasney et al, but also channels his own, left-field sensibilities. For someone who (below) claims to be "willfully out of the loop," Wooden Wand's songs, solo or with band, both reflect a strong knowledge of past and present psychedilics. His taste in new music reflects this as well, as can be seen below.
Stray Praise: New Stuff That's Good
Some of my friends accuse me of being something of a cenophobe, so I thought I'd set the record straight. True, I believe that most great music happened between the years of 1966 and 1974, and though my radar misses a lot these days (being willfully 'out of the loop' is a sublime and underrated pleasure), I do keep my eyes fixed on certain things now and again, and here are some things that have recently caught my attention:
Man, Feathers are great. I told Jarvis that all they needed was to be part of some bizarre and senseless killing and they'd be my favorite band ever. Feathers are a tribe of Vermont flower-gobblers who possess the rare mix of proficiency and honest-to-goodness soul, with more songwriters than you can count, and all of them good. Haven't seen them live yet, so jury is still out on that, but their self-released CDR and the live radio performance I heard are both top notch. Beautiful and charmingly creeptastic.
2. Jana Hunter
Jana's got it, whatever 'it' is. Her self-released CDR is so-so, and only so because it hides her beautiful voice behind layers of thick hiss and weird effects. Live, she is captivating, easily one of the most engaging songwriters I've seen in a long time. Totally psyched for her upcoming 'legit' release.
3. Turner Cody
I cover one of Turner Cody's songs on an upcoming 7" for Time Lag, and it was damn hard to pick just one. The problem with Turner is that he's handsome, so he may not get a fair shake at first, but his songs speak with the echo of someone who was possibly brought up listening to classic songs from a bygone era. I appreciate a songwriter who, stylistically, has more in common with Gershwin and Berlin than with fucking Archers of Loaf or whoever.
4. Owl Sounds
Based around drummer Adam Kriney, Owl Sounds are a heavy hitting, fire-breathing freak jazz unit from another planet who rip it up Dave Burrell style. Definitely the best CD I've ever gotten from an audience member while on tour. Can't wait to finally see them live one of these days!
5. the new Silver Jews record (Tanglewood Numbers)
Oh, man, this is what I'm talking about. If I'm a cenophobe it's because there aren't enough albums that sound like this anymore. A total grower, but clearly a masterpiece. Best enjoyed while stoned in the van.
6. I Feel Tractor / Ed Berrigan
Ed is the son of poet Ted Berrigan, but Ed asserts himself as an individual with his wonderful folk songs that just happen to contain some really amazing lyrics. Hey, if you're going to inherit a genetic trait from your old man, it may as well be a gift for poetry. Anyway, Ed usually performs under the name I Feel Tractor, and, though his performances are few and far between, his first proper album is due out any day, so hopefully he'll be popping up more.
7. The Folk Spectre
Journeyman Pete Nolan flies solo under the name The Folk Spectre (or sometimes Spectre Folk, I think) to reveal a different side of himself than the one seen bashing the drums with the heavy and inimitable Magik Markers. On his seriously excellent, self-released CD Lover/Creeper, Pete covers one of my favorite Hall of Fame songs, "Lucifer," and the results are positively bone-chilling. Buy everything he does.
8. Hive Mind
My man Greh runs the killer Chondritic Sound label and is part of about a hundred noise bands who all have cool names, but recently his focus has been on his solo project Hive Mind, and all the better for we seekers of the mighty drone. Hive Mind is more dynamic, more fucked up than any band doing this sort of thing right now. Ominously pensive one minute, lock-your-doors-bolt-your-windows horrifying the next, Greh makes clear with each Hive Mind release why he's the best at what he does.
9. Inca Ore
I don't know much about this but I'll tell you what I know. In San Francisco I met a nice girl named Eva who gave me some killer medicinal weed and then traded me one of her CDRs for a Wooden Wand CD. Man, did I ever get the better of that exchange. The CD is supremely fucked up, with an emphasis on vocal chants and otherworldly ambience. Reminiscent of the more sedate Ilitch stuff and that amazing Rita Ackermann solo LP from a few years back. Truly beautiful. Seek her out!
10. Ras Moshe
Ras is a jaw-droppingly amazing saxophonist from New York who leads his own Music Now Unit and releases CDs in criminally limited quantities. The best of these that I've heard recently is called Live Spirits 2 on the very cool Utech label, which features two long tracks of beautiful group improv that manages to sidestep the simple bash and bleat. The playing is focused and methodical, while still retaining the sheer urgency of New York free jazz's intimidating history. Ras is definitely one of the heaviest spirits of new music, and one of the most unique voices in jazz since Charles Gayle. And heavy fucking praise, that.
Viking Moses is the latest incarnation of Brendon Massei, a modern-day minstrel who just happened to be making his own music when the folk renaissance struck, lifting him up and trumpeting him as a new voice from the wilderness. In a time of fickle cynicism, Massei is remarkably genuine, some might say naïve. He believes in the communal powers of live music, teaming with a few other descendents of Pan to spread the good word to those who are willing to listen. His new record Crosses on Marriage Records is out now.
Music That Has Occurred In And Around The Time Of Making Crosses, What Led To It, And What Since Has Developed:
1. Nirvana – Wipeout (Big Wave)
Prob’ly like most folks my age, I’m not alone in saying that the music of Nirvana is the first and sole inspiration for doing music to this day. It has brought me to everyone I will list below, and for this, I find importance in this acknowledgement. Wipeout is an unauthorized release of their John Peel Sessions along with demos they did with Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s the rawness of these recordings, and the simplicity of these songs that encouraged me to make music of my own twelve years ago, and share it in a humble and personal fashion. I don’t think it’s particularly easy to find this LP around, since there might not have been too many pressed to begin with, but I whole heartedly recommend people find many of these songs the legal and supportive way by obtaining the Nirvana box set With The Lights Out (Universal). Mad respect to the contributions and personal sacrifice of all who put forward to assembling this, namely Mister Noveselic, Mister Grohl, Miss Jasper and the fine folks at Sub Pop.
2. Morgan’s Orange – Wood Eye (Recycled Carbon)
This is the first “experimental music” I’ve come to know. Morgan’s Orange brought local Las Vegas themes (and I’m talking BiL and George, not Stardust and Desert Inn) together with tooth brushes and toys, and included participation of whoever was around, whether they knew it or not. Light-hearted and comic songs with deep and mysterious undertones, this is the mind of the Great Morgan. I believe the only place in the world one might find this obscure LP is at Benway Records in Venice Beach, California, where for some strange reason rests a sturdy supply.
3. Flaspar – Voice Rockets On The Satellite (unreleased)
This album arrived to me in the mail when I lived in an apartment across from Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club in Kansas City, Missouri. This, like the music of Morgan’s Orange, got my gears turning in the way that I enjoy things today. It’s a step out into the desert at night, belly full of mushrooms, and giving God a piggyback ride. No one ever released this record, perhaps because no one really knew about it. If anyone cares to hear it, find me, perhaps I can make you a copy of this record. Maybe one of you out there should release this! I know I would if I captained such a ship!
4. Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Company (Secretly Canadian)
Like most things in life, meeting Jason Molina was pure chance. But this chance seemed slimmer than usual. We played a show together at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, Virginia, and I was stuck with no way to get to my next appointment in Philadelphia. He offered me a ride, and ended up sharing a friendly portion of his tour with me that winter. It was the songs of this album and its predecessor Didn't It Rain that I got to see take shape, firsthand. Lawrence Peters, a bartender at the Hideout Tavern in Chicago, and a keystone in some of the finest music that's come out of that city, sings on this lovely album, along with Scout Niblett, one of my life's strongest inspirers.
5. Scout Niblett – I Conjure Series (Secretly Canadian / Too Pure)
Jason Molina introduced Miss Niblett and me some years back over pizza. She was just graduating college, and was talking about wanting to start to write and record songs. There is no evolution to a song that I've witnessed that is quite like the development of a Scout Niblett song. She charts herself out like the stars, and transcribes it to tones and beats, to share herself in purity with this world.
6. Leonard Cohen – New Skin For The Old Ceremony (Columbia)
The production of this album is the goal I had in mind for the sound of Crosses There are some 14 musicians on this album, I believe, and still it manages to sound stark and to the point, leaving much accompaniment to the imagination. Tasteful comings and goings of this and that, instrumentally, while Mister Cohen's nylon strings, his confident voice and soothing female singing pave our way through his world. Of course, Crosses sounded nothing like this in the end. I'd love to share a game of chess and a bottle of wine with Leonard before one of us crosses over, a dream I've no shame in hiding.
7. Children’s Hour – S.O.S. J.F.K. (Minty Fresh)
Rhonda Turnbough is responsible for the songs of Children's Hour first crossing my ears. She went to school with Andrew Bar in Chicago, and had some four track demos of theirs. I invited them to a show I put together at the Hideout, and being in the same room as the source of this music ended up being a great pivot in my life. Josephine Foster's voice would leave the microphone and fill the room with operatic grace. We left this time and place, and her voice comforted what her words simultaneously gave uneasiness. Josephine has gone on to do several great records for Locust Music, as: Josephine Foster, Born Heller, and The Supposed.
8. Roger Miller – A Tender Look At Love (Smash / Mercury)
The songs I first came to know and love in this life were the songs of the animated feature Disney's Robin Hood. Roger Miller wrote and sang most of the songs, so it wasn’t strange, that the first time I heard his version of “Little Green Apples” I was immediately comforted and seemingly rejoined with an old friend. Hunting for a recording of this song, I eventually came across it on A Tender Look At Love (1968), which is mostly covers, but shares the same production value and overall feel. By all the “Best Of” comps at truck stops, most people, I feel, are more acquainted with his light hearted, nearly comedic style of writing and singing. This album, on the other hand, seems to be the first attempt at a more serious side of Mister Miller. This would be followed by several records of similar personality, mostly songs by other non-singer songwriters (such as Dennis Linde, Bobby Russell, and a still quite unknown Kris Kristofferson.)
9. Music Of Indonesia – Vol. 20: Indonesian Guitars (Smithsonian Folkways)
The three records Spencer Kingman and I were blasting mostly at this time were: Neil Young’s Silver and Gold, Sacred Steel (Arhoolie Records, V/A, Traditional Sacred African-American Steel Guitar Music In Florida) and Volume 20 of the Music of Indonesia Series, titled Indonesian Guitars. Although we’d belt out “Good To See You”, “This Is A Holy Church” and “Franklin D Roosevelt, A Poor Man’s Friend” with fully convicted voices, it was Volume 20 – Indonesian Guitars that gave drive to our mission! I’d like to record the rest of my music with Usman Achmad, Sahilin and Siti Rohmah. I’d like to donate all my recordings to the Smithsonian Institute to be released posthumously, and serve my country proudly and appropriately.
10. Thanksgiving – Welcome Nowhere (P.W. Elverum & Sun / Marriage)
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea had for several years now been at the top of my totem tower of totally terrific titles to turn to. This masterpiece had been joined when my path crossed that of the young Adrian Orange. Upon devoting my first hour or so with the Welcome Nowhere LP, I was sat at a stoop with Wisdom similar to Rabindranath Tagore, watching, overwhelmed, the wind’s current through a hayfield. With his words I was shown the light of Patience, Appreciation, and Hope through a tune that was dark as the times. Kindness with such Sharpness has often been a frail thing, and hard to come across but the path he makes shall be unobstructed and long lasting if he continues to lead where no one else dares to go.
By Dusted Magazine