Graham Reid | | 2 min read
The story is so ridiculous it has to be true: this band from Hamilton in the early Nineties released their self-titled debut album and the following year went on tour.
Their first show was in Palmerston North and “this was notable only for the small audience consisting of four nuns, and the haste in which the hosts hustled the band out of the venue”.
After the tour – which went off reasonably well after that – they recorded a new batch of songs then sat on the tapes for a while.
Quite a while.
And then a bit longer.
But now – cleaned up and remixed band member Gillian Eva Boyd – that second album 29 II 92 has appeared on the German tape label Thokei (which we have championed many times in the past)
“Maybe just after the recording some degree of 'not too much bothering', but then the actual tapes were indeed mislaid,” says Alec Forbes from the long defunct band when I referred to their lackadaisical approach.
“You are kind to say lackadaisical .. . I would probably have gone with inept”.
Now, you have to like these people for all of that.
And that they toured in a bus which had Colin McCahon landscapes painted on the outside.
A “happenstance” band by their own account, they sound like a rather cool and smart bunch of jazz-influenced musicians (the Style Council/Mediterranean warmth of Sleep Sunday, a languid trumpet piece entitled Miles Davis Hides His Face) who came out of the trickle-down of post-punk: the undergrad folk of Eva Braun's Holiday, remember when she was “a thing”?; the anti-consumerism and banality of modern life on the seething Supermarket Religion.
However the lounge bar sound of The Wind (nice quote by the trumpeter) and the brief but swinging Chromatic Tune bumping up against their rapid country-rock take on the old Sixteen Tons, the mature pop ballad Hit the Ceiling and the unexpected krautrock/motorik experimentalism of the relentlessly churning and gripping Macbeth suggest Hand of Glory were either a bit directionless or simply out to please themselves.
The “ashes to ashes” comment about cigarette smoking on Benson and Hedges suggests the latter seems more likely.
We've said it before at Elsewhere but many have so convinced themselves of our exceptionalism that they would have us believe every album retrieved from the past is a lost classic.
Few are, and this isn't one either.
But it is a thoroughly enjoyable if sometimes bewilderingly diverse collection which deserves to be back out there in the world.
Start with Macbeth if krautrock is your thing, the jazzy pieces if they might be more to your taste.
If you thought those twain shall never meet, they do here in the Hand of Glory.
You can hear and buy this album as a download at their bandcamp site here
You can find out more about Hand of Glory in this interview here
For a copy of this album on cassette -- as it was originally intended -- go to the Thokei Tapes bandcamp site here.
There are also links to many other Thokei cassette releases by New Zealand artists, most of which we have written about at Elsewhere.