If someone told you this was the demo tape from an undiscovered 1970s Brit-prog
act, you'd have no trouble believing them. It isn't, of course, it's actually
modern indie progressive rock from an Atlanta-based bass / guitar / drums trio
... but you get the idea.
Guido's Hand's music is clearly rooted in the classics, and is characterized by
dominant guitar work and soft mid-range singing with loose pitch control a la
frequently supported by the backing vocals necessary to boost a not-so-strong
delivery. The resulting sound ranges from Moody Bluesy Question-era folk, to avant garde rock, and back again.
Ictus is clearly self-produced,
and as such, the guys have done an admirable job. But it takes a few listens to get
past the production quality and appreciate the solid songwriting - which is the
band's biggest strength. The bass, guitar and drum work sometimes seem to struggle for attention in the mix
- competent guitar work dominates many songs, yet the bass work is often more
interesting. The addition of keyboards might have added welcome texture.
The songwriting is solid, the artists are formally trained and
technically very capable, and there are plenty of progressive elements - from
odd-meter time signatures to angular discord to tempo shifts and on the fly key
changes. It's the kind of spirited, energetic music that probably translates
very well to the stage. All of which yield a satisfying listen to the
well-versed prog fan, Guido's Hand's target audience.
16-minute "Allegro" is a strong piece - starting with plenty of Crimson-esque discord and
interesting time signatures, and working through nicely managed tempo changes and
long instrumental passages that range from jam-sessions to tightly composed sections,
yielding an enjoyable listen. But that's not all, as tracks 2, 3 and 4
collectively form a 3-part 31-minute epic. The innovative "Garmonbozia" is
the standout piece, though, and may be a challenging listen to some. It comes
across as another multi-part song, although the CD tracks it as a single
17-minute piece - there are parts that could be the sound track to a
horror-movie, parts that could have come from lost King Crimson recording
session tapes, and parts that simply settle into a groove and jam happily along.
With 72 minutes of music, you'll certainly get your money's worth, and you
may find the second half of the record better than the first. There are just 8
tracks, with 4 of them running between 9 and 17 minutes, leaving plenty of time
for Guido's Hand to develop their ideas.
Good performances, and plenty of
variety - and with improved production and strong marketing, these guys
deserve to find an audience in today's art rock fanbase.
Yep - that describes it best. Art rock.
Il Tercoso Di Luce:
- 2. Allegro
- 3. Andante
- 4. Rondo
5. Nothing at all
7. Surf Vampyre
8. Hidden Track