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Hands: Caviar Bobsled

Texas progressive rock act Hands have had an intriguing career so far, originally forming back in the mid '70s and recording some spectacular material before breaking up without ever officially releasing an album. That all changed in 1996 when Shroom Productions released these archival recordings on the self-titled Hands album, a real stunner that impressed quite a few longtime prog fans, prompting the band to reform and work on new material for the first time since the '70s. Since that time, we've seen the release of a few very strong Hands albums of all new material, and the latest is titled Caviar Bobsled. Strange title, yes, but it just might be the bands best yet since their comeback. The new album features this collaboration of musicians:


- Skip Durbin / woodwinds and exotics
- John Rousseau / drums
- Rex Bozarth / Chapman Stick, bass, cello and background vocals
- Martin McCall / drums and percussion
- Shannon Day / vintage and contemporary keyboards
- Mark Cook / Warr guitar, bass, 12 string guitar
- Steve Powell / bass, additional keyboards, background vocals and noises
- Ernie Myers / vocals and guitars

For those who have followed the band, their blend of Gentle Giant, Kansas, Camel, and Happy the Man styled prog remains intact, and there's some truly fabulous material here on Caviar Bobsled. "Like Me" is simply gorgeous, filled with dreamy flute courtesy of Durbin, as well as lush acoustic guitar & melodic vocals from Myers. On "The Last Song", the band goes for an anthemic, somewhat pastoral vibe but totally proggy feel not unlike Kansas or even Echolyn, and it's a truly catchy & memorable track with some great instrumentation, especially from Myers' guitar and Day's impressive collection of keyboards. I'd also like to mention the muscular bass lines of Steve Powell on this song, who reminds greatly of the late, great, Chris Squire of Yes. The quirky "Heavy Lifting" sees the Gentle Giant influence creep in, with it's fantastic use of counterpoint and myriad of acoustic & electric instruments weaving in and out of each other, punctuated by Day's ominous Mellotron and Durbin's vast array of flutes, clarinets, and recorders. Myers, Cook, and Bozarth weave some irresistible melodies on the floating "Halfway to Salem", a song that also features an emotional vocal from Ernie, and the guitarist is also at the center of things on the lush "This and That", a fun, folky prog rock number also notable for soaring flute and McCall's intricate drum & percussion work. The epic is of course saved for last, in the form of "Busy Signal", another charming number with what seems to be a trend on the album, as it mixes acoustic & electric passages quite seamlessly. The haunting Mellotron complements Myers' melodic vocals, and the myriad of acoustic elements (guitar, cello, flute, and sax) dreamily float over electric guitar riffs, electric piano, Mini Moog, and Warr guitar rumbles.

There have been a lot of great prog albums released in 2015, and Caviar Bobsled is certainly one of them. Holding back a bit on the bombast, this latest Hands offering combines intricate prog with lush folk and a touch of jazz-fusion for a sound that instantly tickles the senses and keeps you coming back for more. A truly gorgeous album that I can't recommend highly enough!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
1. The Last Song (8:20)
2. Heavy Lifting (6:20)
3. Discourse On Method (5:38)
4. Drum Roe (1:06)
5. Halfway to Salem (7:36)
6. Still Life (7:01)
7. Talking Points (3:52)
8. Like Me (6:18)
9. Into the Night (2:20)
10. Shards (3:16)
11. Alis Volat Propiis (4:48)
12. This and That (4:23)
13. Busy Signal (11:31)

Added: September 5th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Shroom Angel Records
Hits: 2672
Language: english

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