Faces Of Earth by Melting HandRelease date: September 22, 2018
Label: Hominid Sounds
Melting Hand are back but Faces Of Earth is not just another fat slab of that greasy psych-noise all you kids are digging these days, oh no. It’s high grade, high energy stuff. They don’t mess around neither, opener ‘Dust’ kicks up an infectious percussive groove, swerves any expectation of draining dirge and dances about cackling to itself, spitting fortified wine into the fire. The guitars take a bit of a back seat for this one, adding colour and textures to the relentless beat. There’s been some changes made here.
What is Melting Hand? Supergroup? Side project? Hominid Sounds’ house band? Bizarre Voodoo curse? The core trio of Mike ‘all the bands’ Vest, Gordon ‘all the other bands’ Watson and Tom ‘no slouch either’ Fug are joined this time out by Wayne ‘many bands, much production’ Adams on synth and Marion ‘The Wharves/Underground Railroad’ Andrau on guitar. It appears the second track here ‘Earth’ provides the album’s guiding inspiration. It’s a version of a Joe Henderson / Alice Coltrane piece of 70’s cosmic jazz. Mmmn-hmmn. Now, when a bunch of hairy psych-rock troublemakers get it into their pointy little heads to fool around with jazz it just naturally sets the alarm bells ringing, I hear it too, but hold your nerve, approach with caution, and you’ll be just fine. Their reading is actually reasonably faithful, the first five or so minutes of Vest’s wailing guitar anchored by the steady rhythm section. The chanting “children of the soil rejoice” vocal part is handled by Lower Slaughter’s Sinead Young who brings an unsettling acid edge to it dispelling any tie-dye-earth-mother dribble. You can picture her in a cowl among the standing stones, arms raised, overseeing some ungodly rite/ psych jazz jam. Once the sacrifice is done the full band returns in looser, wilder mood.
Originally ‘Earth’ was one of four tracks on a conceptual jazz album called The Elements, alongside a track a piece for Air, Fire and Water. Melting Hand have opted to just dig into the earth for all five of theirs and calling it the ‘concept’ might be a bit grand. So as much as Henderson may have been an inspiration here, his influence seems harder to spot elsewhere. Jazz hour is over, ‘Terra’ absolutely rips, it’s like the Butthole Surfers in 5th gear, crashing along dementedly, a total psych-punk joy. ‘Gaia’ starts out on a more meditative groove but builds steadily in pace and intensity until a signal cry from Watson’s bass tips them all into heads down freak out mode. The final tune ‘Dirt’ is perhaps the Cheesecake blow out you might have been expecting right back at the start. It pounds gloriously along to begin, cools to a simmer for a while before they crank up the heat and it boils over like the proverbial madwoman’s custard. Messy and delicious.