The cursor?s been blinking a long time now. What to say in regard to Wooden Wand and Vanishing Voice?s 5RC release, ?Buck Dharma?? It was my first encounter with Wooden Wand and considering some of the mystical selections sent this way from Brad in the past, I knew I could expect something really good. However, I wasn?t ready to be rendered completely speechless.
The only clue provided along with the CD (yes there?s vinyl version, too, and I?m sure it?s worth its penny) was one of those blurb stickers on the jacket that informs these are ?Fantasy camp survivalists seeking to undermine group based music by utilizing sacred tools (country, folk, & blues) and applying and ?anything goes? ethos. Plainly, this is soul music.?
If that doesn?t help, don?t worry. Not much anyone could say really would replace actually hearing what this record sounds like. It?s not unrecognizable. It?s crafted with acoustic instruments, hand percussion, amp buzz, intuitive vox, and buckets of reverb. It even sounds like an ordinary guy like you might?ve made it. It appeals to your hippie sensibilities (admit it, you have them!) with its trance inducing rhythmic passages, and the noisehound in you detects some righteous material, but there?s some element that you just don?t nail down right away. At least I didn?t
Maybe it?s simply the nature of improvisation. Maybe these truthseekers are just so tapped into the Big Collective Song in the Sky that they pull it off. But there?s another element at play here, too. Woven into the anthemic hippie fiber that carries the sonic weight of this record is imagery and mantras of Christian origin.
Hymns! Many of these songs are hymns, but not only of the thank-Jesus-I?m-saved variety. ?Buck Dharma? is God fearing and even foreboding when it wants to be. These songs pledge belief in and allegiance to general form of the Christian doctrine.
Soul music indeed, but not only is ?Buck Dharma? manifested from the depths of WWVV?s collective soul, it literally addresses the soul. Consequentially, it?s brimming with toe-curling highs as well as revelatory imperfections. This is the sound of humans operating with no script. Whether they?re beating drums and dancing around the bonfire, or simply peering down on their physical selves in the act of such ritualism is up for debate. Either way, it?s rousing, honest, and genuinely exploratory. It?s even kind of spooky in the severity of its conviction, much in the way that crazy-dirty-shopping-cart-guy spewing Revelations on Main Street is spooky.
If your vibratory muse has led you this far, then rest assured?you?re going to love this one. Best reserved for those moments of emptiness longing to be filled with an antidote to the catharsis of our modern age. 8/10 -- Travis Johnson (27 June, 2006)