Dusted Reviews

Sunburned Hand of the Man - The Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Sunburned Hand of the Man

Album: The Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What

Label: Eclipse

Review date: Nov. 9, 2003

On the brief insert for The Trickle-Down Theory of Lord Knows What, Sunburned Hand of the Man leave their address and say, “Come on by sometime.” Few notions characterize their music as well as this sentiment. This is not to say that Sunburned will shake-hands with everything walking in the door; but if something new strikes them, well then damn, throw it in the mix somewhere.

Most of the tracks lay some kind of foundation, usually a steady tribal thump or a thick drone, from which a shambling orchestra of other noises arise, recede, and otherwise just hang out on the couch for a while. “Spell it Out” begins with distant yelling, proclamations even, and then a steady rhythm of drums, bongos, and cymbals that rattle constantly forward. From outside the percussion, a deep foggy voice arrives. It could be little Johnny with a toy megaphone, or it could be Jim Jones haunting over his followers. The scene turns a bit ominous. From the next room, however, some folks are hootin’ and hollerin’ and even making bird calls as they shuffle a tambourine around. Reverb-drenched guitars push some space into the room and then the whole thing cuts out for the next song to begin.

On Side B, “Rivershine” pulls no punches. Something low threatens to envelop the whole thing from the beginning. Whether this is instrumental drone or shamanistic vocal hardly matters. More voices moan and sing in the distance, and then a lighter rhythm eases in, this time from a simple kick-tom drum kit. Some different friends came over this day, because one of them plays flute and another swiped an organ from Bitches Brew. More percussive elements join the fray, and a quick monkey-vocal disarms the mood. This is the best kind of group mess: everything easing forward, disjointed but coming together, excited to see who will jump in next. In this case, a crispy distorted guitar wooshes in and out, surging and fading, a little bit of danger pushing at the edges.

In a certain sense, sets like these are very similar and very different at the same time. Many of the same elements (drums, rattling percussion, vocal wails, reverberating drones, etc.) are present in every track. After a superficial listen, the songs might even sound the same. The juice is in the details, however – a few guttural shrieks, the little Casio rhythm buried below, and, is that a steel drum in “Show of Hands?” – these spontaneous sleights of hand are where tracks distinguish themselves. With Trickle-Down, Sunburned walk a line between loose, social music and something driven and darker.

By Jeff Seelbach

Other Reviews of Sunburned Hand of the Man


Bootleg LP

Rare Wood



Fire Escape

Read More

View all articles by Jeff Seelbach

Find out more about Eclipse

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.