Saturday, March 15, 2008
Sunburned Hand of the Man - Attica Rectangle (Manhand CD-R)
Well, here we go again. Another week has passed, and another Sunburned album hath descended upon us. Manhand #68, Attica Rectangle. And again, Sunburned have displayed yet another facet of their sound, this time in the form of amateur sounding, noodly industrial tunes. Field songs for uranium.
The album opens with "Inside/Outside," which might as well be a jam session between the Godz and No-Neck Blues Band. It lurks along in aimless fashion, grinding its way towards some uncertain end. By the time the second track hits, they've already got you right where they want you, halfway between your inner ear and outer space. "Shiv Giver" maintains the momentum with its dronescape, though the piece is far less meditative than what that term may bring to mind. This is all undulating displacement, mammoth conveyor belt noises driven by rust-laden cogs. Yet Sunburned never let it achieve the mayhem that it seems to point toward. Their restraint is more than decipherable.
Which leads me to something that would like to take a moment and discuss. Sunburned is great at doing what they do, yes, but what do they do exactly? How do they command such seemingly disparate musical ideas without ever losing touch of their inner Manhand? The trick, I think, is just that restraint mentioned above. Whether they be jamming on funky psychedelic groove sessions or tweaking out to some noise bliss mayhem, Sunburned rarely show all of their cards at any point in a piece. It is the fine art of listening displayed on a canvas as wide as the River Styx. As the fifth track, "Attitude: Wargang," rumbles in, with its space age guns and pulsing, fuzzed-to-hell bass jam moves in and out of your consciousness, you are never overwhelmed with all of the elements at once. They come, go, and come again, building into one amorphous mass lurching along the ground seeking its prey. But really I digress. You're here to read about Attica Rectangle, not to here my theories on why Sunburned might just be the greatest band of the last fifteen years. Arguments? Anyone?
The album rings in at a brief 28 minutes, with most of the second half of the album evolving from where "Attitude: Wargang" leads off. By the time you hit the last song, "Ape in the Hole Time," you've really just been witnessing one monstrous trick after another, all elements growing with steady precision, metamorphosizing into some bizarre hybrid of noise, drone, rock, and industrial. Another hit by the Sunburned crew, and theoretically the first in the "mental prison" series, whatever that may be. Here's looking forward to the rest, if it should ever rear its ugly head, but keep a keen eye out. This one was limited to 100 copies only. Which I guess is a whole hell of a lot better than two of their other releases from this year. Sugar Magnolia was limited to only 10, and believe it or not, Animal Andrew Crew was only given a pressing of ONE. Wonder who the lucky recipient of that was...