Sunday, 1 November 2015

Wand - 1000 Days

Wand - 1000 Days
Earlier this year, the Californian band - Wand - released their second album.

Titled Golem, it was a record that staked out a camp on the fringes Stoner Rock territory with its fusion of metal and psychedelia.

Wand's third long-player - 1000 Days - is a far lighter and nimbler record than its predecessor, comprising 12 short songs, all cut from the same cloth, that draw upon the US garage-band psychedelia of the 1960s and early 70s, and its folkier, whimsical English counterpart.

As a band who have released two albums in 2015, Wand work quickly. The songs on 1000 Days all sound young and light on their feet, unburdened by any traces of over-thinking that might have drained their vitality.

The opener - Grave Robber - which, on the basis of the title alone, one would peg as a monolithic slab of plodding doom metal, comes racing out of traps on a panel-beaten metallic whoosh of indeterminate origins. It's an encouraging mark of quality psychedelia when you can't pin down the instrument that is source of the peculiar noises that are ricocheting around on the periphery of the mix.

Elsewhere, a cymbal dissolves into a boiling gaseous cloud; a meandering electronic keyboard note, accompanied by underlying chirps and burbles, is carried along on jangly rhythm guitar, and the song moves ahead of itself with such urgency that it barely pauses for its middle eight.

The acid-drenched 1960s vibe that infuses every nook and cranny of 1000 Days could leave a listener with the impression that their brain architecture is slowly reconfiguring itself into a mandala:

Passage of a Dream incorporates drawn-out guitar swan-dives, like the engine of a small jet aircraft on a steep controlled descent, prior to dissolving into metallic cacophony.

Lower Order's opening - a heavily compressed bass that mimics an over-revved motorcycle engine - lingers as a sustained note throughout the song: A relentless churning groove that, following a splintered guitar solo and some magisterial keyboards, changes in tone, warping over on itself to show off different facets of the same raw material.

The album highpoint - Sleepy Dog – a song with its eyes fixed upon the heavens, offers the grandest of false endings: A staggered bass and guitar climb-down from a chorus trailing interstellar synths, that segues into a spaced-out, instrumental false coda. This is followed by some scampering drum fills as if the rhythm section is attempting to regain traction, and then one final chorus that devolves into a squalling power chord.

Situated on the album's most far-out extremities (otherwise known as track 5), the instrumental interlude, Dovetail, is a drumming circle consisting of hollow vessels, lacking any bottom end, and more solid percussion, ghosted by phantom strafed beats on the verge of being smudged out of existence; all of it set against a heavily-distorted single note that sounds like it's in the process of being stretched-out in a wind tunnel.

The record's acoustic moments often pre-empt the arrival of heavier material. Broken Sun begins as head-nodding campfire music - a bassline that creaks like somebody rubbing wrinkles into the surface tension of a slightly over inflated balloon. By the midpoint it has utterly transformed into a ponderous heavy metal beast that recalls Black Sabbath, with an increasingly stroppy whinnying guitar solo that struggles to wrench itself free from the restraints of rhythm section.

There are gentler moments, such as the title track whose opening line “Ceement boy and Ceement girl walking alone in the sunlight” recalls the pastoral Arcadian whimsy of Robyn Hitchcock, as does the closing song Morning Rainbow - a gentle acoustic paean to Lucifer with lyrics that suggest an olive branch offered by the creator to his favourite fallen angel; the ominous parting words: “We will see the world together in it's terror.”

With nary a pause between the end of one track and the beginning of the next, 1000 Days is a breathless journey, lasting 33 minutes, but with enough ideas to fill an album of double the running time. 


Wand – 1000 Days
(Drag City)

Release Date: 25th September, 2015

Track Listing and timings

1. Grave Robber 3:33
2. Broken Sun 2:44
3. Paintings Are Dead 1:46
4. Dungeon Dropper 2:14
5. Dovetail 4:06
6. 1000 Days 2:43
7. Lower Order 3:39
8. Sleepy Dog 2:37
9. Stolen Footsteps 2:52
10. Passage Of The Dream 3:39
11. Little Dream 0:37
12. Morning Rainbow 2:35

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