I remain partial to James Jackson Toth’s early lo-fi days as Wooden Wand, especially the rusted-out Roky Erickson sounds on 2005’s Harem Of The Sundrum & The Witness Figg. He showed an ability to up the production value and maintain some gritty rambles on the Sky High Band-backed Second Attention, but it’s that older collection (and improv offerings with the Vanishing Voice) I return to most. Today we have a video from James’s newest album, Waiting In Vain.
Toth’s been quoted as looking at 2007’s James And The Quiet as his attempt to “un-weird” an album — tightening the psychedelics, putting straight-up song structures to the fore. He’s definitely followed a similar aesthetic path on the Steve Fisk-produced Waiting In Vain, an album billed as “solo,” and that includes guest spots from Deerhoof’s John Dietrich, Nels Cline, Andy Cabic, Otto Hauser, Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers), Shayde Sartin, etc. The video for “Doreen” finds Toth with another guest, his wive and Vanishing Voice-mate Jex Thoth (who recently released a self-titled doom collection on I Hate Records) hanging and singing in bed, by the shore, at the carnival, in front of an old house. James is also loading a gun, though it’s unclear what he’s shooting … though there is a theater marquee that reads “Help Me.”
Label affiliations don’t always tell a story, but watching Toth move between Polyamory, the noise-centric label he ran with Dead Machines’ Tovah Olson, to Gold Soundz, Time Lag, Skull Of Heaven, Soft Abuse, Kill Rock Stars, Ecstatic Peace, and etc. to Ryko, shows a smoothing-out of his sounds. He’s always going back and forth, and there are labels I skipped, so it’s unclear where the man goes next. Still, it points to the scope of his project.
Here’s “Doreen” without pictures:
Waiting In Vain is out 7/29 on Rykodisc. You can listen deeper here, and pre-order the album in CD and LP format via Insound. And if you preorder you’ll get the album as a download immediately, so you won’t be, right, waiting in vain.