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Sunburned Hand of the Man - Headdress

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Artist: Sunburned Hand of the Man

Album: Headdress

Label: Records

Review date: Jul. 1, 2003

Handing it to the Man

In the still drying annals of the new psychedelic stumble, a band has been emerging for some time in the thick of Eastern Massachusetts' pastoral suburbia. Formed from the still smoldering embers of an outfit called Shit Spangled Banner sometime in 1997, the collective known as Sunburned Hand of The Man have been steadily creating a buoyant musical stone soup ever since. The group’s shambolic music occupies the not so spacious vortex between suburban ennui and its resultant emotional release. There’s no faulty hack-n-wheeze umpteenth generation windbag hippy shit here – this is vision, not revision.

In the here and now, SHOTM combine a wide array of elemental musical forces to create one lilting storm. From Native American chant and whoop to motorik drum beats; from psychedelic guitar haze to propulsive bass thump, this group manages to escape the nomenclature of genre to create loose, ecstatic, human music. Fortunately these modern day alchemists use electricity and two-track tape to forge their musical alloys, documenting the past five years of work on seven-plus CD-R releases (of a proposed series of 50) on the band’s own Manhand label.

Released in 2002 as an LP, Headdress is but one example of this union. These like-minded musicians fill voids with sounds and create vast spaces with their orgiastic song. This recording produces a thick, primitive energy that illustrates SHOTM’s ability to transform an improvisational live experience into an ecstatic wall of sound. Headdress opens tentatively enough with a repetitive spindle of staccato guitar and vocal yelp, pronouncements of the coming celebration. Then, this 11-piece ensemble begins to engage and take off, employing bass, djembe, shakers, horns, flutes, keys and congas to produce a hypnotic mix that burns with percussive clatter, incisive guitar, rhythmic drones and the respective, shared passions of friends.

Led by longtime members Reverend John Moloney, critter, Robert Thomas, and Chad Cooper, this group is spiritually aligned in the same smoke-filled room with other such contemporary purveyors of modern psych as The No Neck Blues Band, Six Organs of Admittance, The Major Stars, Charalambides, and very few others. SHOTM build their unique vistas from the ground up and engage the listener to participate the celebratory song. Their exegesis of the human experience is stated plainly in common tongue.

By Michael White

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