ALEX'S HAND is polystylistic avant-garde, experimental rock group centered around bassist Kellen Mills and drummer Nic Barnes. It was launched in Seattle, Washington in 2011, and is currently based out of Berlin, Germany. Dabbling in everything from rock, metal, jazz, avant-grade, classical, progressive and experimental music, ALEX'S HAND has self-released three full-length studio albums, two EPs, a live album, and an album of spontaneous live improvisations. Aside from their studio ambitions, the band has toured extensively throughout the United States, France, the UK and Germany, organized festivals (including "Avant Garden" in Seattle), and played various festivals (including the famed "SeaProg" in Seattle). ALEX'S HAND has written and performed theatre productions (including "Moldy Pony" staged at "Cube", Berlin).
Having relocated to Europe has opened up ALEX'S HAND to even more opportunities and prospects for the future including the orchestration and staging of "Zombie" (a full scale theatre production to be held in Berlin), "Moldy Pony 2: The Horse" (a 2-hour recording project with a 23 piece orchestra), "KatataK" (a jazz-rock album composed with guitarist Ben Reece), as well as tours through West and East Europe. The band's current live line-up is: Kellen Mills (bass), Nic Barnes (drums, percussion), Kenny Stanger (guitar), Matt Kennon (tenor-sax), Roberto Vicchio (trumpet), Davide Piersanti (trombone).
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"Kunstler Scheisse", the third studio album by ALEX'S HAND differs from its predecessors in many ways. First off, it was recorded live and much of it came from chaotic free-noise-jazz jamming, whereas the previous albums were all recorded in a specific instrumental order. Also, when the band overdubbed in Berlin, Kellen and Nic wrote out horn arrangements and really sat with the overdubs. The invited musicians were playing prewritten materials, whereas in the past they were let to play what they felt. Finally, guitarist Ben Reece provided the band with a different perspective than they had in the past in regards to composing more complex melodies on top of what had already been written. So, "Kunstler Scheisse" is far more orchestrated than other albums, a bit more refined and more complicated.
ALEX'S HAND happens to be humorous and funny on the surface, yet incredibly intricate in terms of their compositional and arrangement ideas. Their "Kunstler Scheisse" doesn't really fit here or there, its subgenre classifications fall short. And why does it matter anyway? Just listen to the music...
The ensemble of 12 musicians were involved in making this album: Nic Barnes (drums, percussion, vox), Kellen Mills (bass, vox, synth, electronics), Ben Reece (guitar, vox), Max Steiner (guitar) and Rieko Okuda (keyboards, synth) – as ALEX'S HAND... and Carl Andrew OŐSullivan (vox), Johannes Schleiermacher (flute, baritone and tenor saxophones), Charlotte BirkenHauer (vibraphone), Peter Kuhnsch (percussion, whistles, bells), Rob Mattessi (trumpet), Otto Horvath (trombone) and Stephen Barnes (piano) – as guests. Recorded by: Mike Sopko, Kellen Mills and Nic Barnes. Mixed by Alex's Hand. Mastered by: Allan Shotter. Original cover artwork by Helen Lord. (8 tracks – 62 min.). Free streaming or immediate digital download of the album (MP3, FLAC or other formats) is available through Official R.A.I.G. Bandcamp.
CD: $13.00 / Digital Download: $8.00
"The band write their own rules and seem willing to break their own rules if they feel like it. You really never quite know what is coming and that is a lot of fun. 'Kunstler Scheisse' is an album of quirks, experiments and technique. If Mike Patton got together with Frank Zappa and wrote whatever the fuck they felt like, you'd have an idea of what Alex's Hand are about. It's talent that never takes itself too seriously... For those curious how to be experimental and avant garde without sounding like complete shit, 'Kunstler Scheisse' is the blueprint for doing it correctly. It's clear that this comes natural to them and that's exactly why it works. They aren't trying to be different, they just are." – by ProgManRob at Progressive Music Planet (USA) (June 2016).
"Kunstler Scheisse 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 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." – by Jon Davis at Expose (USA) (July 2016).
More reviews: Progressivelyso (USA), Music From The Other Side of the Room (USA), The Big Takeover's interview with Alex's Hand (USA), Recyclable Sounds (Russia), Babyblaue-Seiten (Germany), Musikreviews.de (Germany).
|CD (RAIG) | DD||$13.00 | $8.00|