A Closer Listen. Jakob Rehlinger Face-friended me the day after this was published. Must have liked it okay. :) Or we both live in Canada and it's just a coincidence.
“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.