Fog & Debris
I was amazed to find out that the brand new album by The All Seeing Hand has been stitched together from leftovers and offcuts of the band’s previous albums. No problem with that at all – but it’s remarkable to me because here I was, so sure that I was listening to the band’s finest album to date, and that it had to be a product of the group now road-tight and having transcended any notion of gimmickry around a line-up that includes a throat singer, turntablist and drummer working as metal band, jazz trio and horror-score composers all in one.
Truth is the band is sounding better than ever – I know that from recent shows and this is their best record – I know that from hearing and loving all of their albums. It’s just interesting to understand this as coming from the same sessions as, for example, the brilliant Mechatronics.
What feels so right this time around – and it never felt wrong by the way – is the commitment to longer, fuller pieces that brood, that lurch, that suck you in with a heavy mood and keep you hanging there – like the closing Canis Lupus – as if Fantomas decided to cut a side-long tribute to Pino Donnagio’s music from The Howling as addendum to their wonderful Director’s Cut.
Actually that sort of theme/feel bookends this record – because the opening Sactus Raag has that horror-score feel to it too, setting the tone for much of the album. It looms and lopes along before ending in a tribal thunder of drums.
But Fog & Debris isn’t all just ominous and doom inspired, the frenetic Show Me Your Teeth marries a swirling appropriation of Pink Floyd’s On The Run sonic with Jonny Marks’ best vocal – and if the music here could have erupted from one of Danny Elfman’s dreams then Marks is The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Jack Skellington recast as grinning glam frontman.
The title track feels like The All Seeing Hand’s best moments in subdued moods – in allowing the weight of their work to collapse down and allow the shrapnel to shine and then to Scrap Metal, less a tune than a soundtrack for a rise of the machines.
Here, the ethos of hip-hop, the feel of metal and the approach of jazz are all seamless, interchangeable and integrated. And here with The All Seeing Hand’s third album it all – totally, utterly – makes sense.