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Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice

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Biography

In addition to running the Polyamory label with Tovah O'Rourke, James Toth was the leader of New York-based avant-garde/freak folk ensemble Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice. Taking the first part of that name as his own — and occasionally billing himself as "Wooden Wand Jehovah" — Toth gathered at one point or another O'Rourke (who also comprised Dead Machines with her husband, Wolf Eyes' John Olson), Satya Sai, G. Lucas Crane, Steven the Harvester, and Heidi Diehl. There were others, too — the Vanishing Voice lineup shifted as much as its members' various aliases. The sounds the group made were fluid, too, incorporating everything from the '60s mysticism of Donovan and Van Morrison to free jazz, noise rock, folk traditionals, and the entire Siltbreeze catalog. Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice released numerous CD-R and vinyl recordings into the indie folk/experimental underground during the early 2000s; they were also responsible for relatively more conventional releases like 2003's Xiao (De Stijl, later reissued by Troubleman Unlimited), 2004's Sunset Sleeves (Weird Forest), and Buck Dharma, issued in September 2005 through 5 Rue Christine. That same year Toth released Harem of the Sundrum & the Witness Figg simply as Wooden Wand. The recording's skeletal folk structures and evocative lyrics garnered quite a bit of positive press, especially in the wake of Devendra Banhart's success. The band released two albums in 2006, Gipsy Freedom and Second Attention. James and the Quiet was released in 2007, followed in 2009 by Hard Knox, a collection of demo and home recordings under the moniker Wand. Two new albums under the Wooden Wand moniker, Death Seat and Wither Thou Goest, Cretin, arrived in 2010. Wooden Wand returned the following year with Briarwood, deviating from his trippy folk leanings to deliver an earthy, Crazy Horse-influenced sound. 2013 brought Blood Oaths of the New Blues, a full-length recorded with the same musicians who informed the ragged push of Briarwood, but moving in a decidedly more haunted and spare direction. Hot on the heels of that record came Wooden Wand & the World War IV, a set of slow-burning rockers released later that same year. For 2014's mellower album Farmer's Corner, Toth switched up his normal recording method of tracking an album in specific sessions with specific players, opting instead to record the album over the course of several sessions in various studios, backed up by friends and session players alike.

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