Saturday, 26 May 2012

Hand Hell - Phonography (2006)

When Simon left The Bites in 2005, Kirsty and I were in a bit of a quandary. We had applied for an arts grant from the Australia Council, in order to finish our second album. Now we had no band and no album. The obvious solution was to start another band and write a new batch of tunes, to add to some songs we had been working on with The Bites, such as ‘I’m Unable’ and ‘Fashion’.

Hand Hell was conceived purely as a recording project, with Jen Tait from Go Genre Everything filling in on the kit on the occasion. Engineer Keith Urquhart set up a mobile studio in the Northcote warehouse space where I worked as a mosaic artist at the time.  We then played around with the resulting tracks for an eternity, adding and subtracting bits and pieces, and even constructing a new song, ‘Achtung! Hier Kommt Die USA’, from out-takes and jams.

‘Waste My Time’ remains the only cover version we ever recorded. It’s a song by The Darling Downs, a country music duo made up of Kim Salmon (Scientists, Surrealists etc) and Ron Peno (Died Pretty). It was hilarious trying to make sense of Ron’s lyrics. I don’t think he even knows what they are meant to be.

‘Boys At The Tech’ was built around a keyboard track I had recorded for my Charcoal side project. Zach from Go Genre added some great spooky guitar and Kirsty came up with a lyric and melody that took it somewhere completely different from the original.

‘Indian Summer’ features some super-heavy stoner rock guitar from Kirsty, while Jen pilfered a beat from Spinal Tap. See if you can pick it. Open to the idea of having her drum tracks deconstructed, on ‘Didn’t Even Blink’ we decided to put liberal amounts of distortion on Jen’s beats, while the rhythm track on ‘Scotland’ bears only a passing resemblance to what she actually played.

The latter song was one that Kirsty had been playing solo for years, but never successfully recorded. Listening to this version still gives me goosebumps, with its melancholic feel and percussive build-up. It’s in 5/4 timing, which gives it its strangely lurching rhythm.

As usual with our releases, we constructed the packaging ourselves. This one was particularly lavish, resembling a book cover, complete with cloth spine, origami CD pocket, screen-printed credits and black velvet insert. 

1.   One More Chance
2.   I'm Unable
3.   Smoke And Fire
4.   Rich Kids Know Shit
5.   F-F-Fashion 
6.   Indian Summer
7.   Achtung! Hier Kommt Die USA
8.   Boys At The Tech
9.   Deed
10. Didn't Even Blink
11. Waste My Time
12. Scotland

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