When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.
Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners
1 Kings 18 famously tells the story of Elijah defaming 850 false prophets on Mt. Carmel. There, high above Israel, Elijah dares the prophets to call upon their god, that he might ignite a sacrificial offering. When the false god fails to appear, Elijah begins to taunt the prophets, needling them as to the whereabouts of the impotent deity. “Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey,” Elijah mocks. “Or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awakened.” And then, as the false prophets begin to cut themselves with fury and their blood spills across the face of the mountain, Elijah begins to call down heavenly thunder with enough force to wake the cloggiest of sleeping giants. And fire falls from heaven and drinks Elijah's sacrifice, and the prophets praise His name through bloody teeth and muddy cheeks; Elijah slaughters them all. A slow grey gathers in the sky, and a great rain begins to fall.
Wovenhand's David Eugene Edwards has seen that lightning. He's felt the bitter warmth of blood on his own tongue and, like Elijah, has seen it in the cracks and fissures that line his hands. And with The Threshingfloor, his most recent record on Daniel Smith's Sounds Familyre label, he's held his guitar up like Moses' staff and pulled the grey light down.
Edwards, who developed a strong cult following with the band 16 Horsepower, has always been more of an Old Testament prophet than a paschal lamb. And like Elijah and Isaiah before him, Edwards is a master at picturing the fear-of-the-LORD to a stark, terrifying degree. “The world will bow / the knees will break for those who don't know how,” he sings in “Chest of Drawers,” from 2004's Consider the Birds. His music skirts the edges between Nick Cave's dark blues and the terrified sweat of Will Oldham's rural southern music, capturing the snaking of time and will as the skin of the fruit is greeted by the anxious and salivating mouth. It's music for the grey days of hurricanes and earthquakes and every moment leading right up to those staccato bursts of joy, and while there is certainly bursting, most of it is splatter from crushed heads and splintered hands and the shattering of frozen hearts.
The Threshingfloor is Wovenhand’s sixth LP and it continues Edwards’ dark, reverent musical vision. Wovenhand’s musical palette has broadened with Edwards’ travels around the world, and Eastern and Middle Eastern instruments such as the Turkish saz and the Hungarian shepherd’s flute join the chorus on this latest album. There really isn’t anyone out there making music quite like Wovenhand, and Edwards’ Old Testament rock is as powerful as ever.
- Marty Garner & Ben Dixon