Album Reviews

Wand – 1000 Days

(Drag City) UK release date: 25 September 2015

Wand - 1000 Days Whatever is in Wand’s water supply is clearly doing wonders for their creativity. 1000 Days is the band’s third album in 13 months, and incredibly the quality of their output is showing no signs of waning at all. Just how many albums the band will see fit to release in a 1,000 day timeframe is anybody’s guess, but there’s no point in wasting the inspiration when it strikes. The only issue Wand face is whether the band’s fanbase has deep enough pockets and the stamina to keep pace.

Wand can tackle that problem when they come to it. For now though they’re quite content to embrace the ideas when they arrive. Over the course of the past year there’s been a slight shift in the band’s output, with the songs on 1000 Days being far more succinct and pop oriented than those on its predecessor Golem. For those who prefer their psych-rock meandering, this might constitute something of a problem, but 1000 Days possesses plenty of cosmic tones and trippy headspace, even if these aspects are condensed into shorter poppier nuggets.

The opening thrust of Grave Robber is a perfect encapsulation of what Wand are all about. It kicks with considerable vigour thanks to the pulsing bass that drives it along, and layered on top is a considerable covering of haze provided by Daniel Marten’s guitar. Then, sitting on top of it all is Corey Hanson’s vocals which are indebted to English prog and ’60s guitar bands. Broken Sun calms down a little and drifts along on the back of some gently undulating piano and keyboards that call to mind the more elegiac moments of Cardiacs‘ later works. Paintings Are Dead manages to find the middle ground between early period Pink Floyd (hello Syd) and Nirvana’s grunge garage explosions, and makes the switch between all-out attack and floaty, delicate verses seem entirely appropriate. Dungeon Dropper meanwhile borrows the vocal delivery from The Velvet Underground’s Lady Godiva’s Operation and marries it to some brilliantly overdriven bass guitar; there’s no spiralling off involved here, just a succinct and direct rock song.

For those worrying that Wand have completely dispensed with their exploration of the outer limits, Dovetail should allay those fears. Its tribal percussion and atmospheric sound effects make for an immersive experience. It might not meander off into a twisting exploration of the soul, but it is hypnotic and effectively so, considering that it lasts a little over four minutes.

The title track returns to more straight-forward territory and is perhaps the most beautiful moment on the album. A basic acoustic folk song that layers up Hanson’s vocals, it initially appears to be at the opposite end of the spectrum to Dovetail’s invocation to explore, yet the chorus (“I don’t need a thing cos I’ve had every dream”) suggests that there are hidden depths that require investigation. Closing track Morning Rainbow is in similar territory, charging an acoustic lament with sparky guitar solo and a wonderfully damaged vocal from Hanson.

Certainly there are times when things don’t quite click. Stolen Footsteps is a little too basic and tin-pot for its own good and comes across as being a little throwaway, whilst the blink and you’ll miss it thrash of Little Dream would not be missed if it had been left off entirely. It’s left to the more lush and considered moments to dazzle. Passage Of The Dream is perhaps the best example of this as it embraces an expansive palette that awash with equal amounts of positive and negative tones. There’s deftness here that is quite extraordinary, as the contrasting moods are played off of each other wonderfully – such as when a quick moment of elegant guitar (that channels George Harrison) is underpinned by a surly bass lick it creates an explosion of emotion that gives the song real heart and soul.

A few mis-steps aside, this is yet another strong showing from a band in the midst of a creative whirlwind, one that fortunately shows little signs of blowing itself out.

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Wand – 1000 Days