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Sunburned Hand of the Man / Hush Arbors, The Cluny, 26th February

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The perception of Sunburned Hand of the Man as weird bearded scatty warriors of weed needs to be revised. Live, they kick in-yer-face jams and create an audience-encompassing world of entertaining sound.
Playing a fiery set of squalling guitar left turns, menacing bass and clattering jazzy drums openers The Unit Ama utterly wrecked the blueprint for power trios. Punchy, dissonant but with a tightly plotted itinerant structure their playing shook passionately. Long time magic carpet drone pilots Jazzfinger played a restrained set of intermittent single pulses, shards of feedback slivers and gorgeous straight from the front lobe ice cream van melodies heard from the shivering depths underneath a foot thick icy lake. This was probably their best live set I’ve seen to date, and I only hope they recorded it.

Hush Arbors were pleasant enough but nowhere near as absorbing as the local support acts. Even though Keith Wood was joined for several songs by members of the Sunburned collective for some full throttle ripping rock it never seemed to really catch alight. His lonesome pining seems a little rushed and he seems more relaxed and having a damn sight more fun when he plays with the headliners.

Playing inches from the audience, a six piece Sunburned Hand of the Man collective (featuring Wood from Hush Arbors and Bridget Hayden from Vibracathedral Orchestra) began with some odd theatrics (including a spookily realistic horse head masks) which straddled the creepy/entertaining line. The band’s ability to quickly find a groove and hammer it home was unexpected, even more so when it buckled slowly seeping out at the edges into hardcore, fucked jazz and whirlwinds of mind expanding structure pushing. Even the lower energy expending lulls were driven by furious Pentecostal style MCing and bouts of lopsided dubby style incoherence. Songs switched from the more traditional style band jams driven by a bass line, ragged fiddle, tongue-tied guitar and shouts to meanderings with no real focal point. But everything worked, even the horse hand-puppet voicing the chants of the drummer under a sheet. Much like Wolf Eyes, the real way to experience Sunburned Hand of the Man is right in front of them.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 March 2006 23:18  


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