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Hands - Strangelet CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 33 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Being a real prog survivor from the 70s and with a wide array of influences and notions in its musical style, it is just a pity that Hands' discography hasn't been so consistent. It is also a miracle that in the idological-commerical circumstances that have shaped the music industry for the last 28 years this band still manages to make music in the new millennium. Not a miracle at all, but an absolute pleasure it is the fact that Hands' 2008 effort Strangelet happens to be one of the most solid and creative albums to be released in the current experimental rock scene. This album features a strong presence of guitars in many places: besides the habitual guitarist, the keyboardist and the bassist als oadd guitar inputs, plus veteran Stick/Warr Guitar player Mark Cook enters the band to make his own contribution. This is also teh first Hands album without a violinist and without a wind player, so I didn't kwno what to expect before getting it, but now I am totally convinced that the band remains as colorful as always, taking advantage of the present instrumental strategy. The opener is a very brief interlude that leads to the monster track 'Dark Matter', which lasts 15 minutes. The first sonorities offer a hybrid of Gordian Knot and Djam Karet, exploring an alternation of exotic Eastern-like textures and dense space rock- influenced passages. The heavy-friendly twists bring occasional ornaments in order to emphasize a sense of extravagance. The bucolic section that gets started at minute 7 bring a stylish serenity that gradually builds the elaboration of another bombastic section. The relatively Yessian epilogue tha tfills the track's last 2 minutes state a contemplative stance, with a cleverly ordained pompous closure. This track is pure progressiveness incarnated in a frame of modern sonic structures - 'Dark Matter' is a world in itself within the world that is Strangelet. 'Tambourin' features the piano on a prominent role: this piece goes to a different mood, combining the jazzy side of Keith Emerson and Happy the Man's lyrical reflectiveness. The instrumental approach takes fair advantage of the 5 minute span. 'Running Room', with a cadence that bears an unhidden inspiration from The Beatles' psychedelic era, may bring some memories from the early stages of The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard, more specifcially, during its first 4 minutes. Then comes a series of Gentle Giant-like tricks that brings an augmented intensity to the instrumental development, adding a variety so fluidly that it doesn't kill the natural flow. 'Entry of the Shiny Beasts' is based on a playful melodic approach to jazz-rock, stating a midway between late 70s Chick Corea and Happy the Man. 'Miracle in the Mind' offers a semi-acoustic portion that reminds us of a hybrid of King Crimson and Gentle Giant: there is an inevitable weirdness that fills the overall relaxing scheme. Things get more intense with the emergence of a tribal section, in which the plural drumming frenzy is augmented by soundscapes and street noises. The last 2 minutes retake the opening motif with an extra touch of neurosis. But nowhere does this album get as neurotic as in the closing track, 'Rotten', which was recorded libve at Cristal Clear Sound Studios. This is a solid study of Crimsonian tension with a neccntuation of the hard rocking aspect. This album is a must for any lover of prog rock with a tight eclectic approach and abundant traces of creativity: in a few words, good prog rock music. Thsi album is dedicated to the memory of drummer Ian wallace (a friend of the band's), and honestly, I cannot imagine a better tribute than this magnum opus. Write down this item's name - Strangelet... and take into your collection!!
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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