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Woven Hand Ten Stones Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Old-fashioned brooding rock, brimming with strength and passion.

Sid Smith 2008

Since 2002, guitarist and vocalist David Eugene Edwards (late of alt-country outfit 16 Horsepower) has been operating as Wovenhand. Rattling with command and vigour right from the off, perhaps more than ever the alt-country linkage is something of a misnomer as the dominant force throughout their fourth album proper is a skewed assemblage of experimental austerity, electric folk ambience and an almost old-fashioned brooding rock, brimming with strength and passion.

Throbbing at the centre of this remarkable music sits Edwards' booming voice, like some kind of dynamo from which all manner of raw and unpredictable energies spin off to electrify and entrance.

Often shouting out his words like a demented snake-oil preacher, the lyrics are suffused with enigmatic imagery, religious symbolism and a grim deadpan focus that the likes of Jim Morrison, Nick Cave and Ian McCulloch have all channelled.

The brute force of The Beautiful Axe, whose stirring chorus, ''Joy has come, is risen with the sun… beautiful the axe that flies at me'', radiates a defiant grandeur that exceeds the low-leaning, grit-filled production.

Serious stuff, for sure, although the inclusion of Jobim's Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars suggested they don't take themselves too seriously. This bossa-nova staple is laced with woozy mellotron and given an ambiguous tonality that wrenches the song from its usual reverie into the darker, malice-filled David Lynch-like twilight of unease.

Kingdom Of Ice throbs with hurdy-gurdy drones and Pascal Humbert's charged arco-acoustic bass stokes the machine with grease and gravel in equal measure. Kicking Bird pounds away with like the kind of Bo-Diddley-on-speed vibe that U2 could only dream about.

Ten Stones is not so much a bunch of songs as a series of reckonings with past ghosts and inner demons; a death-match confrontation framed inside a corral of crashing guitars and mountainous drums that slam against each other with titanic intent. Raw, uncompromising and visionary, this is magnificent rock music striking out from the sea of mediocrity that is much of the indie rock scene these days. An essential must-hear/must-have record, Wovenhand creates powerful, potent and thrilling waves.

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