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HANDWRIST

Psychedelic/Space Rock • Portugal


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Handwrist biography
HANDWRIST is a Psychedelic Rock project of multi-intrumentalist Rui Botelho RODRIGUES from Lisbon, Portugal.

His music is very peculiar, since he creates a cosmic ambience where obscure Jazz soundscapes blend perfectly, as well as unpredictable Avant-Prog experimentations and Post-Rock influences.

It is also characterized by the constant presence of excellent psychedelic guitar work (alluding to David GILMOUR and Frank ZAPPA), complex programmed drums and vocals with trippy effects, reminding of the early PORCUPINE TREE works.

This original and talented artist is highly recommended.

(Meltdowner)

See also: HERE

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HANDWRIST discography


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HANDWRIST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 5 ratings
All Flesh Is Grass And All Its Grace Is As The Flower Of The Field
2012
3.25 | 5 ratings
Flesh Tendrils
2013
4.04 | 5 ratings
He stretches Out The North Over The Void And Hangs The Earth On Nothing
2013
4.04 | 5 ratings
Branching Out
2013
4.13 | 5 ratings
Metropolis
2014
4.00 | 4 ratings
Agrestic
2014
4.25 | 4 ratings
A Vibe To The Perplexed
2014
3.67 | 3 ratings
Antifragility
2015
4.33 | 3 ratings
Random By Design
2015
4.00 | 3 ratings
Sullen Days
2016
4.00 | 7 ratings
Rough Fluff
2016
3.67 | 3 ratings
Green Tourist
2016
3.95 | 2 ratings
Tribulation
2019
3.00 | 3 ratings
Pilgrimage
2019
4.00 | 2 ratings
Paranoia Hotel
2019
4.05 | 2 ratings
The Golden Swan
2019
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
2019

HANDWRIST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HANDWRIST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HANDWRIST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Reunion Tour: Remixed and Remastered
2016
1.00 | 1 ratings
Iron Flies - The Lost Tracks (2010-2011)
2018

HANDWRIST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
Handwrist
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Çatalhöyük
2016

HANDWRIST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Metropolis by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.13 | 5 ratings

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Metropolis
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Dark, depressing and jazzy. I think this is exactly what Rui was aiming to achieve. As written in the CD inlay, the concept is about living in a metropolis when you don't like to, and the music inside gives the idea very well.

The tracks have a base of electronic drums and bass which made me think to the last Bowie album. The Duke used the drums to give the music an obsessive sound. Handwrist did it 4 years before.

The highlight is the guitar which is likely the first instrument of this multi-instrumetist, while the vocals are the lowlight. I have to recognize that the way he sings in this album is finalized to the general darkness, so I couldn't expect anything different, but despite that, it's the only weakness.

So let's talk about the rest. All the tracks are dark and oriented on the same mood, but the guitar makes the difference. Sometimes the keyboards appear to add weirdness to the total, and I must say that the sounds chosen fit perfectly.

"Anti-Social Circles" is the exception. Not as dark as the rest of the album, it's final part is baked by acoustic guitar and is on major chords. Very interesting.

The title track, which is the longest, seems to feature a real drum kit in the initial part, probably it's just a well programmed kit. This track is so "variable" that it's like a sort of "ouverture in the middle". Frequent sudden signature changes make it sound like it was a collage of shorter pieces.

In any case, the track that I personally prefer, even with its vocals, is "Bourbon for Breakfast": dark, psychedelic, vaguely reminding to the early Gong (just in some passages) and with the always excellent guitar which here sounds more bluesy. Like David Gilmour having a nightmare about Roger Waters.

In brief, this is an album that exceeded my expectations. It requires the right moment to be fully enjoyed, so don't try it while having a sunbeam on a beach, or while trekking in the wood. It's dark and has to be consumed in the dark.

 The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Rul Bothelho has released a decent discography during his career recording under the moniker Handwrist. Just in 2019 alone, he has released 5 albums so far. The best surprise is that they have been albums that are well done, that effectively explore certain concepts or ideas and express them very well.

His fifth album released in October of 2019, is called "The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste", and again, he is the sole performer on the album. This album is the 2nd installment in the Handwrist series of albums called "Asia Minor", the first album an EP released in 2016 called "Çatalhöyük". This album deals with the killing of Christian soldiers professing and confessing their faith in Armenia in 320 AD, and told from the perspective of the head person in charge of the punishment these soldiers would receive. It also deals with the belief that, according to Rul's description on Bandcamp, "death is transformed into life through suffering and sacrifice" as described by music. There are 6 tracks on this album with a run time of over 40 minutes.

The first three tracks are called "Confession". "Confession I" (4:07) is driven by a slow, dirge-like repeating pattern with a miasma of sounds and dissonant music playing over the top. This soon speeds up a bit, and becomes more dramatic as a hazy collection of instruments play laying more of a dark and thick texture than creating any melody. A high pitched synth stands out the most as it flutters around above the fuzzy background. "Confession II" (5:16) gives the impression of a steady march underneath some synth layers that give an orchestral impression that feels cinematic, but remains dark and dramatic. This time, you get more of an impression of swatches of melody coming out, but nothing really forms into any standard semblance of a theme. Wordless vocal effects come through the mish-mash of sounds, but, like most of the other sounds, they are fractured into pieces, not really coherant, but sort of dream-like. The music softens a bit and becomes more pensive. "Confession III" (11:39) begins with no rhythm, but is characterized by dissonant piano chords and notes which later get joined by clashing riffs and sounds from other instruments, guitars, synths and etc. The music plods along slowly, driven by piano chords and dissonant flourishes and the lower notes providing a "ground" bass pattern that pushes it along slowly and torturously. Echo effects and other sounds give you a sense of dispair and darkness. At 6 minutes, the music becomes more symphonic as we lose the piano bass notes and instead end up with a swirling cacophony of textures and conflicting melodies (thoughts) all squashed together. Again, there are no melodic lines that stand out, but instead there are several instruments creating a texture by playing individual themes. They seem to fight for the spotlight, but none takes center stage.

The last three tracks are called "Ascension". "Ascension I" (10:16) begins with a somewhat hymn like theme, yet it is all kept hazy. There is a build in intensity as more wordless vocals come along, then heavy piano chords build to what is seeming to become a more elevating sound. The texture seems brighter and more redemptive, but still remains mostly hazy as the music slowly intensifies. Around 5 minutes, an apex is reached and the music quickly changes becoming more mysterious and even a bit confusing, even making the listener feels like the music is leaving them dangling in mid-air as it decides where to go. Just before 8 minutes, everything softens becoming quite a bit lighter, but still feeling like you are stuck between two worlds. The texture goes back to a more exaltant sense as the piano and organ work with tonal percussion to create brightness, yet retaining that church-like ambience. "Ascension II" (6:06) returns to the densness of before, but strings push it forward, and the returning piano brightens things up again. Layers of melody that seem like they are unrelated when listened to singularly are actually creating atmosphere and texture when layered together like they are. What sounds like woodwinds of some sort join the fray and create a feeling of elation, but do so with a bit of tension in the underlying instruments. Different sounds shinge through at different times. At 4 minutes, things become less misamic and the piano mixes with a rolling percussive noise and then brings in a toy-like tonal percussion to make things more carefree and happy. "Ascension III" (3:15) uses dark and low piano chords to keep a slow time while tonal percussion builds layer upon layer, again bringing in an exaultant feeling, and a snippets of melody emerge from the fray. This closing track ties together a feeling of redemption and happiness tieing together the finality of the 2nd half of the disc.

Once again, Handwrist proves he knows how to build atmosphere based on a more miasmic approach to painting a soundscape. This music is pretty much textural, using several riffs, melody snippets and sounds layered together to produce a musical painting and expressing the story, or feeling, that he wants to convey. This is not music that you can just go into without knowing it's purpose, or it's concept. If you do, you will just end up thinking it is unorganized and chaotic. But, this music is more about texture than it is about organizing things into a simple discernable melody. The album, for being one that deals with textures than with melody, is very organic sounding which is a great thing. It doesn't sound electronic hardly at all, but uses tradional instrumental sounds to create the atmosphere it wants. The first half of the album is dark and thick, a bit harder to listen to, but it conveys the feeling of dispair, torture and confusion, where the 2nd half is a bit easier to listen to as it portrays a more exaltant and positive feeling. Overall, this album is extremely effective in the story that it is painting with these soundscapes. The one thing that bothers me a bit is the slightly muffled feeling that is there, but as the album goes on, you notice it less as your listening adjusts to it. This album, as a package is definitely 4 star material, especially with the accompanying artwork and the printed story. I believe these things are essential in understanding this album completely. Personally, I have distanced myself from religion over the years as I have learned to open my mind more to my own experiences and not the beliefs of certain men that wanted to use religion as a way to control people, but that doesn't take away from the experience that is portrayed by this album.

 Branching Out by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.04 | 5 ratings

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Branching Out
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars The fourth album by Handwrist contains only three tracks of about 20 minutes each. There are some significant differences from the first three: the distorted guitar noise which was the background of almost every song is no longer present. There are still parts of highly distorted guitar, but the music goes toward instrumental realms, sometimes in the vein of OZRIC TENTACLES, sometimes even melodic.

"Prologue" is opened by keys. Guitar and drums take 3 minutes to enter the game. This first track is jazzy but with the guitar making a lot of "noise" until minute 9 when a glockenspiel starts a sort of weird military march baked by indian percussion. Just a passage to another jazzy part. Extremely enjoyable. Respect to the first three albums this is really a step forward. Who likes OZRIC TENTACLES and QUANTUM FANTAY would surely like this as well. It brings to my mind the album that ORB did some years ago with David GILMOUR: "Spheres", also thanks to the guitars. Their volume increases, transformes into noise and then a jazzy bass-driven alternates with heavy guitars, then it changes again. It's possible that the various parts have been composed in different moments and then tied together, but it doesn't result in discontinuity. The glue used is solid and consistent.

"Monologue" starts with a heavy guitar chord and a lazy rhythm. Very nice. Just when it seems to be about to go on forever, some more chords appear with a guitar riff. Commenting the previous albums I have noticed some similarities with SENMUTH. The intro can remind to him, but the jazz section that follows is on a total different planet. When it calms down the wah-wah on the guitar is a pleasant surprise. This part seems clearly inspired to Jimi HENDRIX. During the track there's a lot of things going on. I thin kthe best is just listening, so I'll stop describing something that is better served if listened. Just let me say that it can be followed like a story with different moments, like the various scenes of a movie, sometimes thrilling, sometimes relaxing.

The third track "Epilogue" is effectively made of two distinct parts separated by some seconds of blank in the middle. The first half is more rock, while the second contains a lot of psychedelia. The keyboard "scherzos" which start around minute 11 seem reminiscent of MUSSORSKY. It's a pity that it lasts for less than 3 minutes. Anyway the rock part which comes later doesn't cause any regret. There's also time for a drum solo to introduce the most psychedelic part of the album, made just like a sound marmalade. The coda has something like CAMEL's Nimrodel.

A very good album. The best that I've listened from Handwrist up to now.

 He stretches Out The North Over The Void And Hangs The Earth On Nothing by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.04 | 5 ratings

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He stretches Out The North Over The Void And Hangs The Earth On Nothing
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars The Third album of Handwrist starts differently from the previous two: the opener doesn't have the heavily distorted guitar which is in almost all the tracks of the first two and also in many tracks here. Well, there's a bit here too, but the remarkable thing is that with just two major chords and a slow crescendo of the percussion volume, "Northernmost" can mantain the listener's attention for the first half of the track. Then the lead guitar is added with a bit of the usual distortion. I have compared Handwrist with SENMUTH already. They use similar sounds, sometimes close to industrial metal. On is side HANDWIRST doesn't have the dark esotheric obsession for ancient civilizations, obscure knowledges as the Russian has. So the Portuguese is allowed to put clean guitar riffs in his songs, like on the final part of this track.

I imagine the "Limbo" as a quiet place. The second track features the distorted guitar I mentioned before, in alternance with more calm sung parts. Also the voice is distorted by an effect. It's a good song, with long instrumental parts changing from melodic to hard and back. The way he can integrate the screaming into the melody is remarkable. I feel a post rock vein, more than psychedelic, but when it slows down to give the lead to a bluesy clean guitar, it's psychedelic enough.

"Bones" is another bluesy song, quite 70s oriented, but with the distorted guitar in foreground. I remind a similar mood in some tracks of BEVIS FROND, but the repetitive base gives it also a Krautrock flavor. A very interesting song.

"Lull" is an appropriate title. There is industrial noise in background, a nice melody, drumming in post-rock style and a clean lead guitar with a bit of reverb. Things come and go in the first half, then a rock interlude transforms it into a sort of death metal scream. Disorienting. Like passing from Neal Morse to Arcturus.

The title "Void" recalls the biblic album title, but unfortunately I can't catch the lyrics because of the distortion on the voice. The choice of sounds is very important for this artist. The same tracks would sound very different without the effects used. I'm not very familiar with the screamo, even if I personally know some singers doing it, so what to me appears original may be normal instead. I mean superposing screaming to melodies. Anyway, also in this song there's a strong metal element which united to the psychedelic efforts of the lead guitar creates a very singular mix.

"Nothing" is again part of the biblic sentence which gives the title to the album. It's opened by what I call "industrial noise". It's very close to the SENMUTH's style, but this kind of sounds can be found also on ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE. At least until drums, bass and guitar enter after 3 minutes and half, when the reference to Senmuth is no longer valid.

The last track "River" opens Floydian. After the keyboard intro one could expect to hear Gilmour. What follows is not so floydian, instead. It makes me think to a lot of things, so there's no sense in mentioning other artists. The first three minutes are very good. I would have liked to have more of this, but there's a sudden change into a darker realm leading back to another melodic section, just darker than the initial one.

A very solid release.

 Flesh Tendrils by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.25 | 5 ratings

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Flesh Tendrils
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars The title track of this second release by the Portuguese multi-instrumentist Handwrist is apparently an intro, but it has a dark atmosphere not distant from those of Senmuth when the russian gives up to the ethnic interludes. The structure of the track is similar also in the sound of the guitar. I guess the two would enjoy each other's work.

The dark atmosphere is even enhanced in the second track which is a sort of an epic with its 17 minutes. The main role is played by a heavily distorted guitar, but the volume is not too high, so that the music flows without giving the impression of being just a support for a guitar excersize, as sometimes happens with guitarists. What I have written about the vocals for the debut album is valid for the guitar on this one: even it it "screams" it's completely part of the music. The bass line behind is very interesting. Without paying attention to it, one can't realize what kind of strange signature the track has. A disclaimer on the Bandcamp page says that the albun is raw because the artist didn't have the possibility of working on it as much as he would have wanted, but this is not as evident as he thinks. To me the production sounds good enough.

"White Sabbath" is an interesting title for a dark metal track. The guitar is overdubbed: one recording is on bass tones and adds a touch of weirdness while the "other" guitar screams a chord before relaxing on harmonics after about 3 minutes. It's another very dark track, the first with vocals. After about 5 minutes the music stops and t's the tourn of the acoustic guitar which leads to the very first proper guitar solo of the album. After some minutes of speech, the track restarts heavy but this time the guitar solo is in foreground and leads to a sung part. The final part is based on a repetitive sequence of 4 bass notes on which the guitar plays with echo and distortion. Hypnotic.

Let's add that apart of the first track, all the other are over 10 minutes long. In "A Glimpse of Limbo" the distortion stops being the principal element. It's not absent, but the base is a clean guitar harping. Going ahead it becomes more distorted, but it's more a psychedelic melody than a metal sound. At about minute 3:30 there's a sudden change: the guitar volume increases and becomes the base for drum and bass. Again I hear similarities, at least in the mood, with Senmuth, but with more variations. Instead of sudden stops with ethnic interludes, HAndwrist shows more continuity. The track changes but the changes are smooth. Sudden changes is something that I personally don't like even in Mike Oldfield. The guitar melody which start at minute 7 could be Floydian or even jazzy if it wasn't for the omnipresent dstortion.

"Into The Flood" is different. It's more oriented to the psychedelia. there's more tha one guitar: both distorted and clean. At this point I think I understand what the artist was meaning about having rushed with this album. The production is a bit too "linear". All the tracks are almost mixed in the same way regardless the mood. SHould I find a defect to this album, this is the one. But this is the track that I personally prefer. When the distortion shuts up, I feel a bit of relief. The clean guitar here plays some musical arabesques which enhance the psychedelic atmosphere. Not as acid as a trippy AMON DUUL improvisation, of course. This is not jamming, it's a proper track.

When I actually read the title of the last track, I was curious. I'm not a videogame player, but I knw Final Fantasy because of my daugthers and I iike the Chocobo team played by a crazy Japanese trio found on youtube. Well, it doesn't seem related to the videogame. It's a song which has heavy guitars and vocals. The distortion is applied to the voice. too, and sometimes he screams. Anyway, I can't call it metal. There are metal elements, but the track is experimetal. Handwrist, wth few chords, is able to set a mood able to involve the listener. This is the final track of an album which can0t be put in the background while dishwashing. It requires a bit of efort, at least in finding a place where to wear headphones and concentrate on it. The middle par of the track is jazzy and slow, and if it the guitar were cleaner, I could even think to Andy LATIMER. Some passages reminded me to CAMEL's Lunar Sea. I mean the mood, not the chords. The track is effectively about 8 minutes long, but after some silence thare's a short ghost track. Enjoy that, too. It's just few seconds.

 All Flesh Is Grass And All Its Grace Is As The Flower Of The Field by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 5 ratings

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All Flesh Is Grass And All Its Grace Is As The Flower Of The Field
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Between psychedelia and post rock, this debut of the Portuguese one man band HANDWRIST is first of all an excellent album. Usually this kind of one man bands are based on keyboards, but Rui Botelho Rodrigues is, I think, first of all a guitarist. Guitar and vocals apart, the rest is electronic.

Despite being a debut, this is already a mature album from the start to the end. One thing that surprised me is the screaming os "Sundog", which makes it a little weird even if the basic melody is very "major chords" oriented.

The arrangements and the production are remarkable, especially if we think that's an own made debut. Said so, let's see what it's about: there are vocals, but they don't prevale on the other instruments. The voice, sometimes sung, sometimes spelled and sometimes screamed, is completely part of the music.

Music mainly guitar oriented, but like the vocals, even when the guitar is in foreground, it's well integrated with the rest. Also the effects are well chosen and dosed.

The album's title is taken from the bible's "Old Testament", and all the song's lyrics seem to be related to the bible, in particular the lyrics of the closing track "The Tree of Knowledge" are directly taken from the Genesis.

The album is relaxing in, let's say, the first half, then becomes harder up to the closing track, which features screaming, fast drumming and distorted guitar, that's really heavy and justifies the classification as psychedelic. On this track in particular, the crescendo reminded me to a track of a band that I like a lot: "Tsunami" of the Dutch "37005".

Since when I've become aware of this project, found in a PA forum thread, posted by the artist, I've given some random listens to his albums, all downloadable for free on Bandcamp, and I've immediately found it very interesting, so I suppose this will not be my last review of his work.

 The Golden Swan by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.05 | 2 ratings

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The Golden Swan
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Handwrist is the name of a psychedelic/space rock project from Rui Botelho Rodrigues from Portugal who has released 16 albums since 2012. His 16th album is also his fourth one released in 2019, August 2019 to be exact, and is called "The Golden Swan". As is usually the case, Rodrigues plays most of the instruments on the album, but in this case, he has recruited the help of 6 other artists to help with the brass instruments on the album; saxes, trumpet, and clarinets. There are 4 total tracks here that have a total run time of over 42 minutes, but the album is more like a single song divided up into 4 parts.

The album is all instrumental except for some vocal sampling created to make choral effects. It is also meant to be a concept album that depicts the rise and fall of an ancient civilization. Originally, Rodrigues wanted to use a choir singing, narrating the story in Basque as it is a language that best reflects a more ancient civilization. Because of monetary restraints, the composed lines that were meant for the choir are done by other instruments both real and virtual. For the most part, Rodrigues says that the performance is 90% MIDI and 10% sampled accents or details, not counting, any improvisation that is done with real instrumentation. The hope is that someday, he will be able to reproduce this as it was originally intended.

"The Barren Age" (8:15) begins with dark keys which soon pick up speed and are underlayed with synths and organ. Soon, a sax comes in, the mood turns somewhat jazzy and then becomes more complex with sounds from layers of keys and the MIDI creating different patterns, and then the sax starts to improvise over this. The music then gets much calmer as a chord sequence is initiated in the piano and then more layers of keys, guitar, saxes and percussion all come together in a busy sound of what probably represents progress, the building of civilization. Dissonance results from contradicting music layers.

"The Golden Swan" (13:00) begins with organ backed by piano playing a chord progression, and other keys joining in. A clarinet playfully swirls around the chords as it continues. The feeling of orchestration definitely becomes apparent as it continues as the MIDI and other instruments try to recreate the original intention of the composer. The music remains somewhat intentionally focused to recreate a sound of people all going about their business, a jazz flair is created by the wailing sax and clarinet and all of this is layered into the overall sound. Shades of Zappa come in as the track approaches the middle as the sound resembles a score from Contemporary 20th century classical styles like FZ used to create on his synclavier, but the sound is more realistic in this case. The one fallback is that it is harder to recreate the dynamic of the orchestra, but you can at least hear how brilliant this would have been if recorded the way it was intended. Again, layers of sound and instruments both contradict and compliment each other as various themes and melodies come and go. At nine minutes, things become smoother and then later, the sax comes back in improvising around the chord sequences and other sounds as layers get added back in again.

"The False Idol" (8:57) begins with pensive synth programming and piano soon comes in. A sudden increase in speed takes the music whirling around in piano and synth, with guitar coming in later. The music calms a bit, becoming jazzy and pastoral while percussion sounds rattle around in the background and the guitar takes over for a while. Just before 5 minutes, the music shifts and becomes more march-like and even regal. A funky, yet disjointed, jazz background comes out of nowhere and the crazy percussion and guitar meanderings come back. Then a sudden explosion of a more upbeat jazz-rock fusion takes off with the sax blaring along with it all.

"The Cleansing Fire" (12:25) begins with a dark, dissonant waltz style with layers of keys and some nice clarinet playing. This gives way to a more minimal section with the piano mostly alone, and then joined by more keys representing orchestration again. These orchestral sounding sections are some of the best sections on the album and one can imagine how awesome they could have been with an orchestra. Organ-like keys take over when the music quiets again while the piano continues to play behind it, suddenly bringing life into everything when the chord progression speeds up and the sax plays above it all. Layers build up as the repeating piano sequence continues and pushes things forward, but then there is a sudden end to this as another orchestral section begins as interpreted by the MIDI programming and other keys.

The compositional aspect of the music is excellent, and it's a shame that this couldn't have been played as intended, with orchestra and the choral section. It is apparent how much better this would have sounded, but at least the listener can hear how well done the music is put together and then imagine a full orchestra and choir doing it all. The music is top notch, the recreation by the keys and by programming loses a lot in the way of realistic sound and dynamics which can't be recreated as well as with the real thing. Though Handwrist has created some great psychedelic rock in the past, this album can't really be considered that style so much as it is a more orchestral type album. The music is enjoyable and there is a lot of complexity going on here. The only thing bringing it all down is, as can be expected, is in the virtual instruments and not the organic instruments. I can still give this 4 stars, because the composition is brilliant, and at least we can imagine how great it would have sounded with the intended instrumentation.

 Paranoia Hotel by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Paranoia Hotel
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars "Handwrist" has been releasing albums since 2012, and during this time, has managed to put out 15 albums. "Paranoia Hotel" is the third full studio album release in 2019 for the band called "Handwrist", a psychedelic/space rock project from Rui Botelho Rodrigues from Portugal. He has already released "Tribulation" and "Pilgrimage" this year.

Rodrigues plays all of the instruments on this album, except for guests Reggie Duncan (slide guitar on track 2) and Liam Kinson (clarinet on track 3). This album consists of 4 tracks and has a total duration of almost 39 minutes. The music on the album is intended to be a reflection of modern life; according to the band's page on Bandcamp, "a soundtrack to its materialism, indulgence and sterility". The imagery of a hotel is to reflect that as we move through life seeking new things, when it all comes down to it, we are only in certain places (rooms) temporarily and we really have no home.

The album starts with "Reception" which has a standard run-time of over 4 minutes. The music is a heavy and thick sound with layers of synths, percussion and guitar. There is a jazz / fusion vibe to the music, which is the main style used in this album. Halfway through, there is a nice, playful passage that creates a chaotic feel between the guitar and synth. The music tends to reside in a avant-garde style with some interesting harmonics between the instruments.

"Elevator Malaise" is a 14 minute track. The idea behind the music on this one is the modern man being somewhat unable to control where life takes him, having to deal with the cards that he has been given and working with them the best he can, and entertainment is his only escape from this. It starts off with some nice piano consisting of contrasting melodic lines. Soon, synths join in, and the keys flit around with each other playing different melodies that sometime compliment each other and at other times, contrast with each other. The idea behind the music on this one is the modern man being somewhat unable to control where life takes him, having to deal with the cards that he has been given and working with them the best he can, and entertainment is his only escape from this. After 4 minutes, the piano takes another solo section, this time with dissonant chords and nice flourishes. After a few minutes, an organ joins in with synths and percussion rejoining later. The melodies wander around in improvisational sections layered together, uncertain as life. Somehow, it all knits together well, however, not sounding so much like meandering as creating a whole picture. Around 9 minutes, harsh guitar sounds come in and the percussion just falls apart, the steady beat getting lost. The wailing guitar fades out and we are left with just bass, which begins to find a groove, smoothing out the feel, and going back to the fusion sound. Funky synths join in with drums soon returning. Things continue to shift around, the harsh guitar comes back and all of the instruments continue to fight with each other. It's a nice exploratory track with a lot of an art-jazz/rock feel to it.

"Panic Room" is another long track lasting over 15 minutes. A heavy beat is established and keys start out providing a smoother sound at first, but soon intensifying. There are some really cool effects and synth layers here. The drums become more frantic and intensity builds along with dissonant sounds between the instruments, sometime smoothing out and at other times becoming loud and chaotic. As the track goes on, the guitar is the instrument out front, generating a feeling of frenzy. The chaos continues to build as the track moves on. Finally after 7 minutes, things cool down a bit, but turn to a meandering feel as it all lightens up. Again, there is that feeling of avant-garde improvisational style the gives everything that feeling of uncertainty. Nearing the 10 minute mark, an abrasive synth comes in and there are some dissonant chords, but the track continues to wander along. The clarinet brings in a new texture and soon calms the feeling of unorganization, but does so with it's own wild flourishes.

The last track, "Emergency Exit" is so named as it provides the only way out of the chaos of life. This is another 4 minute track and is also much smoother sounding than the previous tracks, with a more standard sounding jazz fusion. It suddenly reduces itself to a solo keyboard playing, then a sudden joyful sounding section bursts in with all instruments playing together and finally working together, almost like control has suddenly been realized in life. It is an effective way to end the album.

This album is very effective in portraying the chaos and unpredictability of life, and how we all find ourselves caught up in things that have control over us. The choice of using an avant-prog / jazz fusion style is an excellent choice. The music is much tighter than "Pilgrimage", even though it still utilizes a lot of improvisation, it doesn't sound like each instrument is trying to outdo the other as much as it seems like they are working together to create an atmosphere, and this is what this album very effectively does. Where I felt "Pilgrimage" was the weaker album of the 3 released in 2019 so far because of the loose and sometimes overly choppy sound, this one definitely brings back the feeling of "Tribulation", the first of this trilogy, in that the music is tied together so much better. This is a great album featuring use of dissonance to create the atmosphere that is required for this album. The avant-garde feeling of the album is a very nice surprise and it is utilized very well. 4 stars.

 Pilgrimage by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Pilgrimage
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars Hailing from Portugal, "Handwrist" is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist Rui Botelho Rodrigues. The music of this project is designated as Psychedelic/Space Rock however, there are a lot of jazz leanings in this music. Since 2012, the project has released 15 full length albums, which is quite impressive. The 15th album, released in May of 2019 is called "Pilgrimage", and consists of 3 tracks with a total run time of 38 minutes.

The previous album by the Handwrist project, called "Tribulation", was released only last month (April 2019) and, even though it is of a psychedelic and spacey nature, it leaned heavily on a nice jazz style that proved to be an interesting mix and made for a satisfying album. On "Pilgrimage", Rodrigues relies less on other musicians and plays everything except for the slide guitar on the first track "Tagus", which is played by guest Reggie Duncan.

"Tagus" is a 12 minute track that starts out uptempo with a synth melody line, but it soon slows down and introduces an atmospheric guitar which takes the track to a different place before building back up again. The synth takes the center stage again for a nice, playful passage, then the tempo slows to a moderate pace while the bass becomes the main guitding instrument while sustained notes from an organ support everything. The bass and organ duo continues on with the moderate rhtyhm for quite some time. After 7 minutes, the mood does a quick change and becomes brighter, more upbeat and progressive as the bass supports a keyboard chord progression and a fuzzy processed guitar. The jazz undertones are still there as they were in the previous album, but this track relies on some interesting solos. The slide guitar comes in creating a slightly unsettling atmosphere against a somewhat cheery backdrop, and then goes along until the track fades out.

"Mondaecus" has a more tropical feel to it that probably comes from Rodrigues' roots. A jazz progression starts and a heavy, fuzzy guitar takes this to a space rock style improvisation, but backed up by jazz chord progressions. Half way through this 8 minute track, there is a sudden change as the background becomes more laid back, the tempo slows a bit, and a wandering synth takes over. There is also a flute effect from the synth that ventures along for this meandering last half of the track which also eventually fades out.

"Durius" is a 18 minute track that has a bright uptempo feel, this time supported at first with only the bass and drums while various synth and processed instrumental textures improvise over it all. At the halfway point, this fades and is replaced by a more mysterious sound, a new background is established, and more jamming soon begins. The foundation changes a few more times after this which make it a bit more interesting in the latter half of the track.

This album is more of a study in space rock improvisation over jazz backdrops. It is more aimless than the album released last month, using it's 3 long tracks to explore improvised space jams. As in the last album, the foundations change from time to time making the long jams more variant, but they are definitely stretched out longer relying on the improvisation, so the music seems to wander around a lot more. While it is definitely a lot more space rock oriented, it seems to me that it is a bit choppy. It's not as well put together as last months album, but is nice for just putting on when you want to just float along with the music. My recommendation if you want to explore this artists music, is to listen to "Tribulation" and come back to this album later with the idea that the music here is quite a bit looser and based on jams. However, if you like improvised space jams, you might be more interested in this album, but I have heard better. 3 stars.

 Tribulation by HANDWRIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Tribulation
Handwrist Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Hailing from Portugal, "Handwrist" is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist Rui Botelho Rodrigues. The music of this project is designated as Psychedelic/Space Rock however, there are a lot of jazz leanings in this music. Since 2012, the project has released 14 full length albums, which is quite impressive. The 14th album, released in April of 2019 is called "Tribulation", and consists of 9 tracks with a total run time of 39 minutes. Rodrigues plays almost everything but has utilized several guests on various tracks.

"Screen Staring" begins with an infectious jazz groove with some unique sounding keyboard sounds and a sax (played by an artist named Slick) playing the main theme that later give it over to an electric piano (played by guest Dan Harris). The main improvised melody passes back and forth between these instruments, and later, a wailing guitar takes the spotlight. "Artificial Euphoria" mixes some synth and trumpet (played by guest Ted Guy), and stays with a moderate psych/jazz sound. A sax also joins in later (played by guest Joe DeFiore). An interesting guitar solo comes in half way through that almost reminds one of Zappa (not quite, but it has the complexity) with the guitar playing in a different meter than the rhythm section.

"Friendly Surveillance" has a smooth jazz vibe but with a unique sounding collection of synth riffs and other playful keyboard textures. "Prefab Nostalgia" shoots for a more psychedelic sound with waves of keys and guitar playing mostly in contrast with each other and a bass line trying to hold everything together. "Patient Suicider" continues with that psych vibe which is led by a more electronic style and weird electronic voice effects. "Wages of Sin" has a lot of spacey effects at the beginning, but then finally settles into a funky bass line and jazzy keys. A guitar takes the main improvised them over later on while the bass holds down the bottom end with some fancy work.

"Common Filth" begins with spoken word taken from a public speech by Walter Cronkite. Keys play around and then bring in a slow moving bass and percussion with keys and synths providing a psychedelic sound. Through this instrumentally-caused haze, the sound of a clarinet (performed by guest Liam Kinson) and a hazy guitar provide a more avant-garde sound as the textures all mix together, everyone doing their own thing, but still strangely in sync. It's strangely chaotic and soothing at the same time with a complex jazz sound. "Usury & Sodomy" establishes a slow jazz/funk style with an interesting mix of guitar and sax and a poem recital from Ezra Pound echoing in the mix. When the vocal stops, a trumpet takes over (played again by guest Ted Guy) as the music takes on a psych/jazz style. Later, a heavy and fuzzy guitar comes in to replace the trumpet. "Fake Origin Story" (not inspired by Trump) is the final track. It fades in on some spacey effects, and some interesting percussive effects (congas, talking drum, Itumba all played by guest Kitzito Mubang Like). An interesting vibe develops from this and builds into an avant-jazz sound with vocals with heavy effects and lyrics added in later. This is another very unique sounding track with a bizarre mix of spacey music and jazz. The flute (played by guest Joe di Fiore) is a very nice touch.

This is a very interesting album that I would probably be more apt to list under progressive jazz more than psychedelic/space rock, however, there are aspects of both here, it just seems to lean more towards jazz. However, there are several other styles mixed in here and there, and there is also not a fear to move into avant-garde territory from time to time. The middle of the album seems to suffer a little bit as the tracks are shorter and not as well developed, but this is really a minor issue because the stronger tracks are really good. There is plenty of uniqueness and several interesting passages, but overall the sound is quite intriguing and shows a lot of promise, which it delivers on more than it doesn't. There are a few weaknesses here, but for the most part, this one is definitely worth checking out, especially for jazz fans who don't mind a little psychedelia and other-wordly sections added in.

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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