By Odin’s beard! Remember Harry Dean Stanton’s walk through Big Bend, the dusty, desolate Texan desert at the beginning of Wim Wender’s masterpiece Paris, Texas? His dehydrated body with dry, cracked lips, full beard and skin like leather; dryer than a two-month old Nardorcott. Stanton was serenaded by Ry Cooder’s magnificent bottle-slide guitar which Cooder wrote after being influenced by Blind Willie Johnson’s 1928 cut, Dark Was the Night. Thin Wire Fence’s Scared of the Light, was written after they watched Paris, Texas. It’s a song that makes your mouth dry as cotton wool and brings that iconic scene to mind, with the harrowing story of a man out of his mind, stuck out in the desert on his own.
Cracked light, hurts my eyes / if only I could get myself back off the floor / vultures circle to pick my bones / yesterday I was king / now I’m not/please leave me alone while I fall.
Ry Cooder might not be playing on Scared of the Light, but D.C Smith’s gruff-as-gravel vocal, which sometimes brings Tony Joe White to mind, is supported by a tight band which includes Nick Waugh’s amazing pedal steel which is up there with Tommy Detamore and Henry Senior Jnr. D.C’s voice is accentuated with chops from his Gibson SG which makes Thin Wire Fence so different from other alt-country bands. It adds darkness to the sweet sound of the pedal steel, reminiscent of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Blixa Bargeld’s welcome Teutonic assault. Sometimes they sound so heavy.
The darkness pervades on the delicious ballad I Suppose which sounds like it could have been written by Dylan, circa Love and Theft or Modern Times-era. It’s a fine song, beautifully played and sung. Even Clinton Heylin would love it! It would come as no surprise to find out D.C Smith, the main writer, is a Bobcat.
Thin Wire Fence have made their own stop-frame animation for Odin Calling which I’m sure the great god would have loved. Apparently Odin loved raving. I’m sorry, I meant ravens. Odin had two pet ravens which according to Norse mythology had magical powers and meant very good portents if they landed near you. They are directly related to the ravens at the Tower of London, who also bring good luck.
Odin’s Calling resonates with a great bass line provided by Tony Cook, whose musical antecedents can be traced back to Ray Manzarek and cuts like L.A Woman and The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat.)Mr. Cook’s enormous bass sound dances hand-in-glorious hand with Waugh’s spacey pedal steel runs, which co-ordinate with the video’s surprising science fiction theme. These Viking minstrels leave plenty of sonic bandwidth for Janey De Vekey’s keyboards and endearing Valkyrie-like backing vocals which make her sound like she was riding bare-back on Sigund’s steed, Grani.
Thin Wire Fence know all about the ravens (and raving!) as they are keen ornithologists. In fact, they took their name from the Hitchcock film, The Birds, which was populated by flocks of wild birds, many of whom perched on a thin wire fence. During filming, Alfred Hitchcock played a mean trick on Tippi Hedren. He told her that for the final sequence, where she is attacked in a confined space by hundreds of birds, he would be using mechanical critters. Hitchcock lied to her. Ms. Hedren was subjected to a terrifying ordeal in a cage with live birds screeching and squawking, many of whom were attached to strands of thin nylon cord, like fishing line, which were tied to the actress’s body through rips in her dress, so they were unable to fly away and kept pecking and clawing at her. She was badly scratched and also suffered an eye injury. Not so great for our feathered friends either.
Mythology geeks, film buffs and Doors fans. You get the whole nine yards (and more) when you sign up with these mother-freakers. Thin Wire Fence’s Green to Dust is part existential lament, part historical travelogue; not forgetting the head-shaking hoe-down. Just when you Thor-t you’d got out, they drag you back in!