These is the sixth record of the trio on fire consisting of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. Two years passed exactly since I reviewed their previous She Sleeps Lp. Two years is a kind of interval which marks the gap to the anterior Without Noticing.
What we have here defers vastly from almost nocturnal approach on predecessor album. Saying that one must accept that nocturnal from the Fire! is something different that the usual definition would suggest. I am finding The Hands to be a musical poem to me. Seriously. I know that the heavy sound of the trio, particularly the bass lines and lament – scream of Matt’s saxes are often compared to Black Sabath alike guitar riffs, but it is not the case here. The longer I am listening to it the more I am confident with that.
First of all are tittles of the tunes, which are making a poem as such if read in row, just follow:
When Her Lips Collapsed
Touches Me With The Tips Of Wonder
Washing Your Heart In Filth
Up. And Down.
To Shave The Leaves. In Red. In Black.
I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence.
When I played them in random order the meaning collapses, there is no poetry anymore. Sounds don’t match words as they did before. Back in order and all clicks back. The tensions and realises fit again. The mood paints the drama as it was intended by those who composed them. Then I checked who did it and mystery solved itself alone. There is a clear note on the back cover saying that all tittles had been inspired by Kenneth Patchen. There we are. I love to trust own senses and encourage you to do the same. They will never betray you. The rest can always be found.
Album starts with tittle The Hands. Rough and clumsy, with almost neurotic lines reminding me The Joy Division. Repetitive character of heavy riffs supplied bringing strong visual images.
Following second track starts with some onomatopoeic intro bringing words which sound collapsed and impossible to understand, therefore the feeling matches the tittle perfectly. Heavy trip continuous with the bass’ dark steps and baritone’s cascades od sounds which are coming like cascades of thoughts inside of the head, impossible to articulate, but all meaning.
Opening sax lines on Touches Me bring the realise and nostalgic reflection. Bass hardly goes to the surface, it rather pulses like a blood in your vines. Once you focus on that you know you are still alive. Andreas finishes the picture with firm brushes and ride frames. Voices of gulls in the background are bringing marine feeling to the sketch and giving a sense of identity to the background of the story.
Each line brings his own image and his own change of mood. Dare experiment with them and you start to feel the meaning of the poem. The main theme is there and it keeps coming along the heavy lines, reminding me a bit a Tonbruket sonic universe a bit. No surprise here giving a background and mixed heritages. The pace in the music matches clearly the intonation of the words. And meaning of the words keep moving too, once the accents had been moved. The closing piece I guard her to the rest. Declaring silence clears the subject with wonderfully lyrical sax lines, making an obviosity of final departure in such a gentle way that there is really nothing to say after.
As I said, I loved She Sleeps and keep listening to it , but The Hands is no shorter congenial.