31 July 2014

Handwrist - Agrestic, Album Review

Handwrist is a sometimes dramatic, sometimes funky, sometimes funny, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes heavy, always awesome, experimental progressive rock project with Rui Botelho Rodrigues at the face of it. And man this album is good!

There's some really cool sounds coming through in this album. Including spacey UFO sounds from the title track Agrestic. I'm thinking they're synths but it sounds like a theremin which is pretty damn cool.

With lengthy tracks full of alternating soundscapes, changing beats and rhythms and incredible work on the lead guitars, this album works both as epic background listening, but also as a story to listen to properly and intently. I know a lot of people who don't like to listen to music with lyrics (which I think is silly) but this album could persuade them to think again because the sounds tell the story so brilliantly. Words aren't needed. BUT when vocals are used in this record... It's ace! The Unpredictable Song being the prime example with its medieval sound. Although I admit I'm still not as convinced by this song as I am by the other tracks on the album. As the song even says itself, it is a bit of a waste of time. But no worries, we soon get back in the groove again when the next track comes around!

The main highlight of the opening track for me is the super cool bass line, and when listening to the rest of the album this is something that is continued throughout. Not once had I been disappointed by the bass.

The two interludes, which are damn good songs in their own right, are a really nice wind down from the dramatic and pulsing rhythms of the tracks that surround them with a slow beat, cheesy sound effects (that's a good thing by the way) and more fantastic guitar.  I will never grow tired of that delayed sound.

I suppose you could claim that the record is quite samey but it is prog rock after all, what else would expect? It's a style! Not only that, but there are some really great dynamics in this album. We've got organ sounds and chamber sounds and voices to mix things up a bit and I have to say I'm really liking it.  I especially like the tuned percussion sounds (xylophone? Marimba?) that are used to build up the rhythm in the track YHWH before it breaks into an ace, stabby guitar riff which is mirrored by the bass when it launches into that solo style again.

Wildlife is the most incredible track on the album. I have no idea what sounds are being used, I'm assuming some sort of woodwind instrument but it sounds so authentic and it really reflects the wildlife feel. This similarly comes across again in the later track We Can Jam in the Woods. I tell you, there's some amazing composition gone into this album.

Look guys, this album is more than an hour long. I could go on for thousands of words but the truth is you don't wanna be listening to me talking about it, you wanna be listening to the album itself because it is just plain awesome.

There isn't a bad track from start to finish, except maybe for The Unpredictable Song which I'm still not quite sure about. The energy stays vibrant throughout with a range of emotions explored in each track. Also, if you're listening to this with headphones on, just be warned that there is some mind blowing stereo effects going on in the last track. It's crazy. Just.... Just listen to it.

Agrestic is available for free download on the Bandcamp page and if you want to test it out before you go ahead and click 'buy now' then every track can be streamed there. But I encourage you to pay what you can, even if it's just $5 - $10, it is so worth it!

Handwrist, you get five stars from me. Good luck on your music endeavours, I can't wait to hear more!


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