BY BEN SPENCE
WAND open their debut album, Ganglion Reef, with a minute of swirling guitars before you’re greeted by a fuzzed up reverberating vocal. Send/Receive, wouldn’t be out of place on the records made by many of Wand’s Los Angeles based garage rock neighbours and this is in no way a bad thing after all this record was released on God?, Records owned by Ty Segall so they are quite obviously imbedded into that landscape.
It is, however, Ganglion Reef’s second track, Clearer, that sets this four piece apart from their contemporaries, alongside the riffs and heaped on fuzz there are swirling synths that lift the song out of comfortable garage rock territory and into Wand’s own space.
Broken Candle reiterates the fact that this is a band that is as heavily influenced by Troggsian 60s garage pop as much as they are indebted to swirling electronics from 70s Germany, most notably Neu!.
Fire On the Mountain (I - II - III) puts the listener back on the heavy path with a Master of Reality-era Black Sabbath sounding bass riff combined with lifting choruses and comparatively soft acoustic guitars. This spacey saga checks in at under 6 minutes making it clear that Wand are definitely not a sloppy band; the three sections are clearly distinguishable from one another but they are in no way drawn out or convoluted. This ability to effortlessly change musical direction without losing the listener is a skill that Wand have clearly mastered and execute repeatedly throughout Ganglion Reef.
Wand are undoubtedly influenced by the key set of musicians that inspire large swathes of the modern music world but have interpreted this influence through a refreshingly clear 21st century lens. They are an unmistakably modern band, their guitar and bass tones are at points inseparable from their synths. The mixture of dirty riffs, 6661 for example, with undoubtedly poppy choruses makes this seem like a band who are aware that they may only have a listeners attention for 3 minutes so they ensure that within that space of time the listener is given a clear representation of who they are, who they listen and leaves them with a hook that they will likely seek out again.
The penultimate track on Ganglion Reef, Growing Up Boys begins sounding like something that could have been found in Neil Young’s Harvest sessions if they were taking place on Mars, before Wand’s signature vocal sound and guitar tones seep into the mix.
Wand close Ganglion Reef with Generator Larping, which is somewhat similar to the album’s opener, a bass riff that gets you ready for 3 minutes of heavy rock but is then levitated by layers of synth and a reverberating melody that take the song in a totally different spacey direction than you first may have expected.
Wand are a heavy band that can also be wonderfully light and floaty…. At the same time!
*WAND are now known as ISLAND EYES. Check them out.