Exposé Online banner

Alex's Hand — KaTaTaK
(RAIG no#, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-08-04

KaTaTaK Cover art

Many years ago, I figured out that one quality of some music that really appeals to me is that it seems to either exist in a world of its own or create a world of its own, aside from the standards of music in our real world. This kind of music makes its own rules and doesn’t abide by the conventions followed by other music. This is a quality that Alex’s Hand has had from the beginning, when I reviewed their first EP, and this latest recording is further proof that these guys are not really of this world. KaTaTaK consist of three long tracks (“Waterfalls,” “Epic,” and “Ghost Peppers”) that are effectively suites of multiple divergent sections plus two brief interludes (“KaTaTaK (Inital Catfrontation)” and “The Kattening (Return of the Furer)”). At times you’d almost swear that the longer pieces were digitally assembled from separate recordings, probably shuffled in random order, but this is an illusion. While there is undoubtedly a lot of studio work involved, these are really cohesive pieces — just joined by factors that remain obscure to outsiders. There is a narrative, but it’s more akin to the storytelling of James Joyce or Samuel Delany or Thomas Pynchon (or Mo Yan, to go for an appropriate but lesser-known name) than Charles Dickens or Shakespeare or even Stephen King. Musical references include (the usual suspects) Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, but this band has listened widely in rock, jazz, and classical music and assimilated the sounds without regard to typical boundaries. I don’t know to what degree they intellectualize their process (and it’s irrelevant anyway), but I’m sure I could spend hours analyzing what they’ve created, dissecting themes and transitions and references. But honestly I just get caught up in enjoying the audacious craziness of KaTaTaK. One thing that strikes me is that as complex as the music is structurally, it’s played with a casual looseness that I associate with musicians playing by feel rather than reading charts — this is rock played with a kind of jazz attitude. Another thing is the very live feeling of the recording. While the tracks are over ten minutes in length, I could describe them as epics for people who are easily bored — the mood changes often enough to keep you on your toes as if it were numerous short tracks, though the overall span is probably longer than you normally listen to. “Ghost Peppers” is the outlier here, being the most internally consistent, though not without surprises along the way. Throughout the album there’s a balance between serious artistic intent and exuberant fun that makes KaTaTaK a blast to listen to, and well worth the time it takes to listen to the whole thing.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Alex's Hand

More info
http://alexshand.bandcamp.com/album/katatak

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Live at Bickershaw Festival - North West England 1972 – The front of the package proclaims "Joe Strummer's favourite concert." Well, I'm sure it was great to be there. The Captain and his crackshot '72 touring lineup (Rockette Morton,...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues