steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Sunburned Hand of the Man

Self-titled CD


Genres: New Weird America, free improv, experimental

April 2006

Despite Wabana's characteristically cryptic (rather, non-existent) liner notes, I have been able to determine that this is a live recording from Sunburned Hand of the Man's loft in Charlestown, Massechusettes, reissued from a 2003 limited pressing. This label is responsible for a slew of rare singles, featuring the likes of Guided By Voices, Kid 606, Six Finger Satellite, and Calexico, but this disc is one of three recent reissues Wabana put out simultaneously, along with albums by Acid Mothers Temple and Wolf Eyes.

The four track recording in question here occupies the space of forty-three minutes, and in that time manages to entrance, baffle, and envelop you. The first piece lays a guitar groove above simple percussion and various forms of spacey sonic atmosphere to create a truly hypnotic experience; the last two and a half minutes climax then sort of mellow out to provide a nice finish to the nearly eight minute work. Following this, the second track becomes darker and more depraved. A trancey background is juxtaposed with the agitated ramblings of the singer (begging "war, war"); manic, jazz-influenced percussion and brass add tension before a drone comes in and takes the track to a different place. A Middle Eastern influence becomes apparent in the background tone and the piece concludes in dark, mysterious echo - something from a church hall deep near the Earth's core.

Track three is the album's shortest and darkest track; it's an eerie, unsettling piece of atmospheric ambience with a moving bassline and a strong sense of mystery. There some free jazz/improv squiggling at the end that sets us up for the fourth and final performance, which is eighteen minutes of wild, experimental free noise - saxophones, percussion, amorphous vocals, and assorted noise make up the dense wall of sound. With about six minutes left a dark haze descends upon the piece; distant, reverbing chants occupy a hollowed-out well deep in the music until the sound gradually deteriorates into a mainly percussive state. With that, the album ends - and so does the trip.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 4 tracks, distributed by Surefire, released 2005]