Wovenhand - The Threshingfloor
I think this album was a good follow-up to Ten Stones, because, in one sense, it returns to the ways of the old albums (in that it is less accessible), but, in another sense, it takes the best of the last album and perfects it (the wonderful melodies, simpler song structures). Is it a better album than the last one? Depends on how you look at it. The last one was great for the pure visceral thrill of seeing Wovenhand just let go and rock out. However, this one has graceful melodies (much akin to their first couple of albums) and then allows them to build. “His Rest” and “Singing Grass” are the best examples of this laid back approach to creating beautifully, atmospheric melodies. This is just a beautiful album altogether. However, it still doesn’t come close to the scale of some of the earlier albums. And I am not quite sure why that is the case.
"The Threshingfloor," "A Holy Measure," "Truth," and "Denver City" grab hold of the propulsion and intensity that Wovenhand has gotten to on several occasions, but there seems to be a more laid-back approach to arriving to those points. Anyone who has paid attention to their music from the first album can definitely see how this album came to be at the time it did. It fits within the trajectory of the band, but its still not the best. On top of that, "Denver City" just seems extremely out of place on this album. I never minded listening to it (matter of fact, I love that song), but in the scheme of the whole album it is hard to get past the idea that it was simply an afterthought. The atmosphere, music, and feeling of the record is completely shifted on that last song and, really, without any good reason. I think ultimately that was truly distracting to me in the end.
Apocalyptic Rating: 2 out of 10 (It was a mere flesh wound)
Wovenhand Album Rankings
2. Consider The Birds
3. Blush Music
4. Ten Stones
5. The Threshingfloor
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Wovenhand - Ten Stones
This album is easily their most accessible work to date. Musically it is straightforward with lots of rock influence. Edwards and crew toned down the world music influences that had weaved in and out of their other albums in order to create a sonic album that would appeal to a larger group of people. Edwards’ lyrics are a lot more discernible, as well, but they are no less beautiful for it. Those who don’t agree with Edwards’ religious stance may have a harder time taking on this album because the Christian imagery is there in spades in a more apparent fashion (however if you don’t like his perspective, how you were able to choke down the other albums is beyond me). There are very few slow spots on this album; most of the time, the album rocks just as much as any of the great rock albums in music history. However, it is still Wovenhand; there is no doubting it.
The first three songs present the theological theme for the whole album, which is the supremacy of Christ, and all of the other songs are just variations on that theme. From “Iron Feather” on to the end of the album, there is festering urgency that is carried out through the electric guitars and blunt percussive beats which find their culmination in the the final two tracks, one, “His Loyal Love,” coming off as a chant and the other, “[untitled],” finishes out the album with an instrumental track that starts slows and shifts suddenly into a chaotic rush. This has the feeling of a concept album without the pretentiousness of a concept album. There is still enough variation to make it new after many listens.
The strangest inclusion on the album is their take on the Antonio Carlos Jobim track, “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado).” Edwards does his most normal style of singing today. The gruff is gone, the growl is tamed and he comes off as an, almost, operatic force. If you weren’t sure that he could actually sing, then here is your proof. Though the song seems like a strange bedfellow with the rest of this collection, it still fits into the realm of the theme of the album. Plus, it provides a nice break from the breakneck speed of the rest of the album.
Apocalyptic Rating: 4 out of 10 (You can step easily out of the bomb shelter)
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Wovenhand - Puur
Does this album belong at the top of the Wovenhand catalog? No. Is it an extremely layered and interesting Wovenhand album? Yes. Very much so. Once again, Wovenhand teamed up with Ultima Vez to formulate a new experimental dance production and the corresponding soundtrack for the production. And, once again, a good portion of this album are remixes of past albums; in this case, Consider the Birds and Mosaic. However, unlike Blush Music, a large portion of the music on here is instrumental with dramatic monologues weaved in and out of the whole album. This is almost a symmetrical album:
a. To Make A Ring (sung) - Wovenhand remix
b. Breathing Bull (instrumental) - Wovenhand remix
b. Shun (instrumental) - Wovenhand remix
c. Horse Head (sung) - acoustic version of 16 Horsepower song
d. Lulah Harp (instrumental)
c. Low Estate (sung) - acoustic version of 16 Horsepower song
b. Twig (instrumental) - Wovenhand remix
b. Dirty Blue (instrumental) - Wovenhand remix
b. Lena’s Song (instrumental)
a. Silver Saddle (sung) - remix of 16 Horsepower song
Overall this album feels symmetrical and complete. Like the order was significantly chosen to gain the most emotive and narrative force for the production. Leave it up to David Eugene Edwards and crew to create extremely dark and dreary atmospherics for what seems to be a rather dark story.
Speaking of the story, there is a lot of interpretation that could go into the culmination of the music and monologues that make up this album. The most interesting part is that the story (whatever your interpretation is) has a definite Russian existentialist feel to it. Its like Dostoyevsky came in and wrote the monologues himself. The spotlight of this album is the mixture of the deeply religiously-toned music and the dark and enigmatic words of the actors speaking over it. However, with all of the positive elements of this album, it doesn’t make the listening experience enjoyable and this is an album that weighed on my ears heavily as the week went along.
At the end of the day, Blush Music is still the most comprehensive mixture of intrigue and entertainment of the Wovenhand/Ultima Vez collaborations. But if you are looking for something to scratch your head over, then I would humbly place this at your feet.
Apocalyptic Rating: 9 out of 10 (They want an anti-me, an antidote, an anti-boss)
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Wovenhand - Mosaic
By now, I am pretty used to the sound of Wovenhand’s music. Like I said before, there is not much variation from album to album, but with music this solid, there is no real need to shift style. Most of the songs are of a reflective and somber tone with the few occasional upbeat tunes (“Bible and Bird” and “Whistling Girl”). The main difference between this album and the previous offers are the various attempts that instrumental tracks. “Breathing Bull” opens up the album with a sparse and eerie opening tone overlaid on top of an eternal and changeless hum. Along the way, we have “Bible and Bird” and “Little Raven” as other instrumental additions to the album. “Slota Prow-Full Armour” opens up instrumentally with Edwards’ voice accompanying it with a spoken piece in a language that he pieced together from other languages. The song melds into the second half that is an exposition on Ephesians and the imagery of the armor of God. The speed from the first half of the song to the second increases and creates a slightly off-kilter feeling to the song as a whole.
This album has a few excellent standout tracks and the instrumentals actually work quite well in the mix for Wovenhand. However, the overall feeling of the album seems a little uneven and inconsistent. There are a couple of songs on here that just don’t add a whole lot to their catalogue. This is far from saying that this is a bad album, because it’s not. However, in the big scheme of their catalog, this one fails to meet the high expectations that were met by the others. The tremendous standout tracks are not enough to pull this album all the way through. It is tough to say that this album would be the bottom of the list for this band, because compared to a good portion of albums out there, this one still kills. But put up against the other work from Edwards, it just doesn’t quite come through.
Apocalyptic Rating: 7 out of 10 (His anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever)
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