Chuck Schuldiner Project

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Handshake Sleeping Snarling

Handshake is an artsy prog rock band from California, and their new album is fantastic. The band is made up of college guys, yet somehow they've gotten bigger than some signed bands I know, these guys are living the dream. Yet despite their youth and rising popularity The guitar work is subdued, and calm. The bass is the thudding beating heart of the band. Meanwhile the drummer has a lot of fills that are unique for the genre. The keyboards are an occasionally present treat that adds a bit more melody into the bands sound. Finally we have the vocals, which truly capture the artsyness of the band, both in their quality and their lyrical content. Together they form a unique sound that you must hear!

The guitar work on this record combines influences from various genres ranging from jazz to metal to noise punk. This leads to a unique guitar tone, with compositions that seem... off... and yet somehow beautiful at the same time. Overall the compositions are pretty simple but the sheer variety found on the album is shocking. The solos are usually atonal, or bluesy, again the combination of influences comes into play. The guitar is particularly interesting in the extended experimental passages which show the true versatility of the guitarist. To finish, the guitar work might not blow you away, but it will certainly interest you enough to want to keep listening.

The bass work on this record manages to capture the aura of each song and give that song a pulse. Even the most low powered of tracks (like Lemon) has a sort of pulse going through it that is extremely interesting to hear. The bassists (there are several) show a lot of skill on the instrument with this. The bass work is a very significant part of the sound of the album almost entirely because he can capture each song's very essence. The drums too manage to capture the mood of the songs. Whats especially impressive is the variety of fills that the drummer uses to provide variety in the music. Together, the rhythm section provides a varied sound that manages to fully communicate the aura of each song.

The keys are one of the artsiest parts of this record. Their primary role is to add layers of melody or symphony to each song. Once more the musicians show an amazing ability to grab the aura of each song and communicate it through another instrument. Their can be melancholy symphonic lines, or melodic bluesy lines. They combine to add some sonic depth to the music and to make the sound more poignant.

Finally we have the vocals, the ultimate communicator of the music. With a style vaguely reminiscent of Roger Waters, the vocals prove of Clary and Greenwald are more than capable of getting their messages across. The sheer sadness found in them is remarkable, the sense of depression I get when listening to him sing is incredible. Lyrically this album is extremely bizarre, with phrases like “Illicit campaign ads/They sell us some trash bags/And I know/He keeps changing the channel” things can get pretty trippy. Yet somehow the overall psychedelia of the album works, and allows for an interesting and exciting sound.

In conclusion, Handshake is a wonderful prog experience. With an extremely fun sound I can not understand why anyone would NOT want to listen to them. With an overall subdued sound, they create some really swirling psychedelic riffs that you do not want to turn off. This album might be very bizarre, but it is also beautiful, it is an album that you don't want to have to turn off. With good guitars, pulsating rhythm, poignant keyboards, and sad vocals this band proves they have what it takes to be gods. So go listen to them, or make a puppy cry.

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