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Handwrist - Paranoia Hotel CD (album) cover

PARANOIA HOTEL

Handwrist

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.00 | 2 ratings

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TCat
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.

TCat | 4/5 |

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