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.