Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice The Flood

Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice belong to that loose circle of freak-folk collectives that includes No-Neck Blues Band and Sunburned Hand of the Man — bands who favour cryptic names and document themselves through many self-released CD-Rs and the occasional label-backed albums. Lucky for us, in the past year, ringleader James Toth (aka Mr. Wooden Wand) has steadily moved the onslaught of releases to more visible outlets like 5RC and Troubleman. These albums often vary in direction, scope and line-up, but their latest album, The Flood, is as loose, hypnotic, and utterly powerful as they come. Perhaps this is because they have managed to overcome the elaborate trappings of freak-folk’s intentional obscurity by building just enough structure around the cacophonous barnyard instrumentation to elevate it to the next level. Wooden Wand harness the improvisational extremes of a band like No-Neck, but string them together with a chorus of meandering chants. Thing is, Toth and co. have an innate talent for poetic lyric splurges, not to mention an easy way with quirky, spontaneous hooks and a background steeped in American primitivism. At its best, the result sounds like a Donovan record gone feral. For a band with an ever-growing catalogue, The Flood is a perfect place to start. (Troubleman)