[sic] Magazine

Wand – Golem

The heavy garage-psyche fold is already at full saturation, but LA rockers Wand buy themselves a little room by partnering it with a little stoned Glam. Crucially, though, we’re talking about a head-banging flamboyance better-concealed than, say, King Tuff’s camp freak-outs and one that’s in a different ballpark altogether than the fey jangles of a band like Smith Westerns. For Golem, the nine-track follow-up to last year’s power-riffing Ganglion Reef, is an album that could only ever be at home on In The Red, a label that continues to function as a unparalleled beacon of fractured garage transmissions. And when it comes to pedigree graduates of this fine institution they don’t come more notable than Ty Segall, a long-time associate of Wand and on whose God? imprint Ganglion Reef made its début.

So, while Golem’s stomping rhythms do owe a debt to Marc Bolan and co., it’s Segall’s furious tempos and swampy psyche that are the more obvious go-tos, frontman Cory Hanson’s falsetto even similar in places to the man himself, bobbing around massive rock rampage “Cave In”, for example, like a rubber duck in a volcano’s caldera. When connecting these dots let’s not forget Segall’s own experiments in Glam, too, such as colourful indie-rocker “The Singer” from his all-over-the-place Manipulator LP. Add to all this Chris Woodhouse’s production (Thee Oh Sees and Fuzz, amongst others) and you’d be forgiven for assuming Golem is carbon-copy stuff, but this bong-grade riff-tacular is the Segall sound taken on a serious doom trip.

Dialling back the psychedelic synths of Ganglion Reef and Hanson’s previous outfit W.H.I.T.E. (psyche-droner “The Drift” aside), Golem plies its trade instead with sludgy crunch, Jay Reatard-style heavy hooks and speeding drum rolls. Lead single “Self Hypnosis in 3 Days” intersperses the onslaught with madcap FX, its follow-up, “Reaper Invert” preferring serious shred and the undertow of a detuned bass that predicts the later doom-metal riffs of “Planet Golem”. In places this volatile LP relies too heavily on brawn over brain, but ironically it’s from the one its most laidback moments onwards that it really establishes a groove, as the super-70s “Melted Rope” functions as a near-literal launch-pad, borrowing first from Bowie’s star-searching experiments in Mellotron before taking off with psychedelic pedal-fuzz in “Floating Head” that ignites like rocket boosters. Wand are a band that need these fireworks to propel their leaden craft skywards, but once airborne, of course, the sky’s no longer the limit.

Best track: “Cave In”

~Golem is released 6th April 2015 on In The Red.~