Exposé Online banner

Alex's Hand — Hungarian Spa
(Bandcamp no#, 2019, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-03-13

Hungarian Spa Cover art

From the very beginning, Alex’s Hand has been a band with a distinctive vision of what they wanted to sound like — or maybe I should say “visions,” since their sound has continued to evolve. Or maybe they’re just learning how to better accomplish what they’ve aimed for all along. In any case, Hungarian Spa finds the core of the band (Kellen Mills on bass and Nic Barnes on drums) augmented by an expanded lineup featuring guitar (Ruben Bernges), keyboards (Danielle Friedman), vibraphone (Jacopo Bazzarri), two saxes (Matt Kennon and Giovanni Chirico), and two brass (Dima Bondarev and Scott Flynn), plus singer Erik Leuthäuser on most tracks. On top of that, more than a dozen other musicians contribute strings, more horns, vocals, guitar, and so on. The result has features in common with big band jazz, Frank Zappa’s larger ensembles, and RIO chamber rock, all filtered through a post-Mr Bungle sensibility that sets Alex’s Hand apart from any other band on this planet (maybe there’s another planet out there where every band sounds like this, but I’ve never been there). And while “unpredictable” is one of the most appropriate adjectives I can use to describe their music, even the strangest changes have a kind of sense to them. A heavy rock riff in an odd meter, a meditative saxophone solo, and elaborate vocal harmonies can all cohabit the same song. There are so many WTF moments that you have to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Those with theoretical inclinations might detect some very sophisticated techniques in the composition and arrangement, but deciphering them isn’t necessary for enjoyment. Hugarian Spa is a surreal journey full of weird characters and confusing situations, but it’s an amazing trip!

Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Alex's Hand

More info

Latest news

Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

However - Sudden Dusk – The reissue of However's classic Canterbury inspired first album is one this writer has been anticipating for many years. The band at this point was a four-piece, featuring Peter Prince (vocals,...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues