Exposé Online banner

Alex's Hand — Künstler Scheiße
(RAIG R091, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-07-10

Künstler Scheiße Cover art

Seems like it was less than a month ago I was writing about Goblinsz…?!, the improvisational collaboration between Alex’s Hand and Ádám Mészáro. Oh, right, it was less than a month ago! But in truth, Künstler Scheiße is something that the Hand has been working on for a long time (maybe since the formation of the band) and finally managed to pull together in all its sprawling, ragged, contradictory brilliance. The jams with Mészáro, enjoyable as they may be, are the kind of casual toss-offs that these guys are capable of, while Künstler is a Major Work with a capital M and W. Comparisons with Frank Zappa, Mr Bungle, and The Mars Volta are valid but don’t really tell you much. Sections of willful and difficult complexity are offset by chaotic improvisation, non-sequitur stylistic shifts, and goofy humorous touches that continually defy expectations. This is epic prog for the attention deficit crowd, building numerous seemingly unrelated sections into lengthy suites and not coming off like some kind of digital collage. This is an extremely talented group of musicians operating in a realm of creativity that might seem far removed from the conventions of rock or jazz or anything else, but has its own internal logic. The Hand’s core of Nic Barnes (drums, vocals) and Kellen Mills (bass, vocals) are joined by long-time guitar accomplices Ben Reece and Max Steiner and a large team of others they’ve gathered together, mostly in Europe, on keyboards, vibes, horns, and so on. Alex’s Hand has produced some good recordings in the past, but they are just preludes to this — not to say they’re now done. This is a seemingly endless fountain of ideas, and from what I’ve heard, they’ve got more in the works already. Every hill they climb is a little higher than the one before, and the territory ahead is covered by fog until you get closer, revealing a still-higher summit. Don’t miss out on this, and if the first listen leaves you baffled, give it another. I’m reminded of a point about creativity that David Byrne made in How Music Works. He said that if composers are exercising unfettered creativity (as many people seem to assume), how come they almost always come up with songs that are in the 3-5 minute range, in 4/4, stick to the notes in one scale, and consist of verses and choruses? Creativity is not unfettered, but bound by conventions most people might not be aware of. Well, I’m betting David Byrne never heard Alex’s Hand. Not much in the way of fetters here.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Alex's Hand

More info
http://raig.bandcamp.com/album/alexs-hand-k-nstler-schei-e

Latest news

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

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Univeria Zekt - The Unnamables – This is, for all intents and purposes, a Magma album recorded under a different name. The original intent by producer Laurent Thibault was to create an album that would be sort of like an introduction...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues