One could never accuse David Eugene Edwards of being idle; he is a man of purpose, a man of mission, a man consumed. In the two years since the release of Wovenhand’s critically acclaimed ‘The Threshingfloor’, he has toured the US three times and Europe four; has created a 110-page hand-illustrated book of lyrics (‘Black of the Ink’); released a double-live album/DVD (‘Live at Roepaen’); was recruited for a new album and reunion tour of Australian indie legends Crime and The City Solution; and now, has revealed an extraordinary new Wovenhand album, ‘The Laughing Stalk’.
‘The Laughing Stalk’ mines the bottomless chasm of a desperate man at the mercy of an inscrutable God; of one standing at the foot of a great mountain, the top of which is shrouded in cloud and mystery. What is there but power and terror? The urgency to reckon is palpable, is unavoidable. The rhythms are insistent, the guitars unyielding, and melodies are potent and unrestrained. David Eugene Edwards is as much a force of nature as ever, pulling the entire band forward with the strength of his voice, as if it had its own gravitational field. One can’t quite grab a hold of a singular styleeach note is informed by the royal heritages and traditions of punk, of country, of rock & roll, industrial, and Native American music. The hues and colors in the music are rich and deep.
But newer and unfamiliar elements are percolating and rising to the surface; there is rest, there’s hope, even joy. The Impenetrable becomes penetrable, and the inscrutable countenance of the Other becomes recognizable as an attentive look of compassion and tenderness. An insistent rhythm section that once heralded danger now provides the bedrock for dances of celebration, and turns of light shift minor melodies to major.
The depths and the heights of this land, the scale of it all, comes into view as the contrasts of light and dark, of terror and joy, stand in clearer relief. This is a big place. Perhaps Wovenhand’s finest record to date, ‘The Laughing Stalk’ is the testament of a restless artist seeking to document his findings in a wild, untamed, and impossibly beautiful land.
Brett Netson’s captivating new album Simple Work for the Dead (CD) is available now via New High Recordings. Netson is a member of the acclaimed band Built To Spill and has toured with the likes of Mark Lanegan, Bob Forrest’s Bicycle Thief and his own band Caustic Resin. This will be his anticipated solo debut.
The tracks for Simple Work for the Dead were culled from sessions stretching back over ten years. But the groundwork for the project was laid even further back, in a time when Netson was a teenager on the bus coming into the punk/anarchist scene of downtown Boise. It was a setting of decaying buildings, empty lots and a freedom to occupy the margins. Netson, “I felt like I was finding other orphan types, to form a new culture, a new sort of heritage, of doing without asking permission.”
The album is an epic personal playlist, veering off into unexpected and powerful territories, the words not so much heard as felt, imagery emerging upon repeated listening. It plays like an unexpected note from your neighbor. Not a complaint, but an observation and an offer of help, a sonic attempt to break through the barriers that isolate people – an affecting and personal soundtrack for all those likeminded orphans who act without permission.
Netson explains, “My band Caustic Resin was more of a call to a feral subversive lifestyle, but the intent here was to make music for everyone. The songs on this record were mostly written as they were recorded and each song was usually done in one sitting. If there is a reoccurring theme, it’s a meditation on the end of capitalism and cheap energy – sad songs about western culture’s craving for authority in the guise of convenience and comfort. How we are helpless and the future is uncertain.”
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