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Wand
Golem Nick Hutchings , April 6th, 2015 18:48

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On the surface we may be living in a shiny digital world full of exponential growth and leading edge science. Some way to the left of the information super highway is a brick road that leads to a host of shadowy inexplicable phenomena and incalculable danger. From soul transplants to rogue robots, the rise of mysterious pandemics, legends of black-eyed kids and an unquenchable voracity for vampires, these are the unexplained mysteries of the 21st century crying out for an Arthur C. Clarke for our times. Another such puzzle, is how the young men glacially staring out from Wand's latest press release could have unearthed such timeless sonic artifacts. While their jock friends were going round antiquing each other with flour and butter, these guys were diverted by antique wax of the Hawkwind, Bang, Pendragon, Granicus and Highway Robbery variety. Their concession to a modern era is a nod to the Melvins or Sleep; though let's face it, that's probably their Generation X parents' record collection.

On the one hand, the bludgeoning sludge of their sound is medieval. Not so much metal as bronze age. On the other hand (a bewitching hand, which probably has six fingers, all the better to play axe with), it's fantastical. This is a band that has gotten into the habit of inhabiting the netherworld of their nefarious imaginations. Its perhaps not surprising to learn that in between such dense, dark workouts as 'Floating Head', or eerie graveyard stompers like the totemic 'Planet Golem', their idle hands would do the devil's work by furiously flicking at a console on Final Fantasy VI. On the third hand, their sound is truly alien.

Their scuzzy doom lacks the groove of Californian contemporaries and sponsors Thee Oh Sees, the medicinal monotony of Wooden Shjips or the blissed out riffs of Fuzz. The spectral quality of songs like album book-ends 'The Unexplored Map' and 'The Drift' give testament to the fact it wasn't just games controllers they were thumbing but also the pages of Philip K. Dick literature.

This is science-fiction that doesn't feel like man-made rockets to the moon but akin to the mysterious flying rods caught on camera in the skies over the New Mexico desert. To the cynical, these are tricks of light resulting from interlaced video shot with a long exposure, capturing a motion blur of normal insects moving, but to crypto zoologists they are "sky fish" creatures with a similar aspect to the seaborne Vetustovermis planus membrane. Given the extraterrestrial bent of the music on Wand's second album, you'd understand if their beliefs lean to the latter.

Golem is not an uplifting experience. Wispy fingers of fog wrap around your neck and slowly asphyxiate, the grip only loosening with the dreamlike optimism of song 'Melted Rope'. The album is however, spellbindingly insidious. The riffs burrow their way under your epidermis like lesions of the mysterious skin-vaders known as Morgellons. To some these extrusions of irritating and unexplained sub-cutaneous fibres are psychosomatic parasites, quite literally spread via Internet self-diagnosis. The power of Wand may not be pleasant, but its pandemic of virulent noise may well become the itch you can't scratch.

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