Wovenhand – The Threshingfloor

January 01, 1970

(Sounds Familyre)




“Oh beat the drum for him, oh holy measure, strum and buzz
for Him, is our only treasure,” booms David Eugene Edwards in his echo-haunted,
arena-scale voice on “Oh Holy Measure.” And yes, in this sixth full-length as
Wovenhand (following more than a decade with 16 Horsepower), there are plenty
of driving drums, an onslaught of raw and stinging open-chorded strumming, an
ominous undercurrent of buzz throughout, and, perhaps most important, the
palpable, overriding presence of the “Him.” 
One of 2010’s most intense and riveting albums, The Threshingfloor (Sounds Familyre) infuses the bone-shaking transport of rock music with
spiritual struggle.


Edwards’ core band – Pascal Humbert on bass and Ordy
Garrison on drums – is back from Ten Stones, and they continue to become
larger-sounding and more sure. It’s hard to even remember that Wovenhand was
once a solo project. The driving rhythms that these two contribute have become
integral to the band’s sound.


The rhythmic drama underscores a sense of headlong search
and turmoil. There is nothing complacent or settled about Edwards’ faith. Indeed,
the title track’s central metaphor is of one earthly suffering, of life as a violent
threshing that shakes out the small grain of good in us. The song, the album’s
best, underscores its point with a relentless, pummeling beat, and guitars that
sting like whiplashes.


The title cut is the first of several Threshingfloor tracks to employ Middle Eastern sounds, this title cut bristles with
multi-toned percussion and some sort of primitive wind instrument. It’s a
violently propulsive track, faster than the rest of the album and imbued,
despite its darkness, with a kind of physical release.   “Terre
Haute,” near the album’s close,” has the same wild
sense of transport, a high shepherd’s flute (that’s guest artist Peter Eri)
careening over outsized rhythms. “Raise Her Hands” brings Edwards’ affinity for
Native American forms to the front, with its ritual beat and interlayered,
incantatory vocals. These are heady, intoxicating cuts, short-circuiting any
attempts at analysis and going directly to the primitive, spiritual parts of
the brain. Even Edwards is sometimes overcome by the rush of these songs,
singing in tongues or soaring, wordlessly, in choral flourishes.


The Threshingfloor, like all Wovenhand albums, is
full of drama, yet it also includes intervals of respite. “His Rest,” coming a
little before the midway point, is the first of these, its pace slow, its tone
serene, its arrangement eased by cello. Later, “Truth” has the echo-washed
keyboards, the stately percussion of the Cure. Odd little “Wheatstraw,” only a
minute long has a Latin lilt to its drum machine and keyboard riff. Closer “Denver City”
sounds lighthearted and garage-y and oddly like the Eagles of Death Metal,
though minus the raunch.


These tracks allow listeners to catch their breath,
providing a bit of a rest between barrages of pounding, pummeling intensity. Yet
what you remember, what makes Wovenhand so compelling, is the struggle Edwards’
work embodies. Some Christian songwriters attempt to capture the solace of
religion, the tranquility and sureness that they expect from heaven. Edwards
stays right here on the threshing floor, in the hard, sweaty midst of life,
suffering now but looking towards salvation.   


Standout Tracks: “The Threshingfloor” “Terre Haute”
“Raise Her Hands” JENNIFER KELLY



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