Moonwood ~ The Strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack

“The Law For The Wolves” is a poem from The Jungle Book that spells out how wolves are to conduct themselves, and a resounding line depicting the unyielding cycles of nature is where the Canadian duo Moonwood went for the lengthy title for their latest release. While the law of the jungle is dog eat dog, the Moonwood family seems to be much more interested in sharing avenues into consciouness expansion as their freaky psych-folk would indicate.

Given the number of releases over the last five years Moonwood strike an improvisational chord, and yet there is a deep level of intention pulsing here. TSotPisW,atSofWisP (even the abbreviation is too wild for capture!) is a lot like the group’s other albums, and yet absolutely different. The rumors are true: the band is influenced by Tibetan funeral music, krautrock, Balinese gamelan, classic psychedelic heavy rock bands, traditional Japanese and South Asian music, dub, free-jazz and avant-folk. It all appears on this album, stemming from a strong backbone of acoustic guitars, jangly percussion and a healthy dose of bamboo flutes.

The circuitous guitar style and eastern scales define much of how the rest of the music sounds, but what that might be changes from track to track. The playful early dawn of gamelan percussion, gongs, and hallowed vocal harmonies on “Invite Me To Stare Into The Darkness” is followed immediately a Cambodian psych jam in “Grafitti Blossoms”. The album jumps around quite a bit, and while a consistent theme of ritual and psychedelic encouragement is achieved, the strength of the record lies in the second half. It is as if the experimentalist menagerie of the first half were a warm up for the final charge into darkness unknown.

“It Takes A Child To Raze A Village” begins this journey with some bayou-styled guitar bendings reminiscent of Jack Rose and Evan Caminiti at the same time. From here a steady pace is established, the acoustic engine sparkling with additions of eastern violins, (perhaps) ekatantari, and opium-soaked tambourine. It’s a soundtrack worthy of your journey across a forlorn landscape or the River Styx, except with eyes still full of wonder and optimism. “And The Snake Shall Be Your Watchman” features what sounds like a bowed electric guitar and those familiar but haunting spirit harmonies, setting the stage for one cracker of a closing track.

Any grief taken with the style schizophrenia (shame on you) will be absolved by “Where The Flowers Blossom Red”, a monster psych folk track that begins somewhat unassumingly before launching into a vivid arrangement with the filters your mind puts up to keep you from the edge. This is the snake dance, and Moonwood is poised to coax your soul’s release in a Grails-esque bacchanalian purge. It is very enjoyable closure for an album that is as sonically fascinating as they come. All the talk on the Internet about these folks using a minimalist approach needs revision, as while one can imagine these instruments appearing around the campfire, the glut of styles and instruments from around the world amounts to much more than a simple bowl of granola. This is a sultan’s nocturnal feast for the ears. (Nayt Keane)

Available here

One comment

  1. Pingback: ACL 2012: The Year’s Best Album Covers « a closer listen

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