Interview

All Seeing Hand

All Seeing Hand

By Courtney Sanders

Thursday 17th October, 2013 10:15AM

Experimental Wellington trio the All Seeing Hand have just released their sophomore album Mechatronics, an adventurous composition of the experience of each member: synths, percussion and you know, Tuvan throat singing. UnderTheRadar caught up with the band, ahead of their album release shows this weekend, to discuss the writing and recording process as well as where they draw their unique inspiration from.

You have just released your album Mechatronics. What was the writing and recording process for the record like?

Most of Mechatronics stemmed from little interlocking drum and turntable grooves we’d discovered through improvisation at shows or rehearsals. We set about documenting these and left it up to chance as to how they would develop.

The album was recorded at Scumbag College, a beaten up but much loved DIY studio, under Wellington Airport. We left the tape running for a day and this resulting in a three hour long recording with all of what would become Mechatronics and Fog & Debris buried within.

The vocals were bedroom recordings and analogous to the rhythm section evolved over the duration of the recording. Many of the songs are simply the turntable, drum and throat trio but some did warrant extra flourishes. These came in the form of textural guitar, embellishment from additional vocalists and electronics.

I'm particularly interested in the collaborative element of All Seeing Hand - how the members of the band come together to create each song. Can you explain a little about this process?

Generally the pieces stem from a single sound or rhythmic pattern that wiggles its way into our mind. We set about building a song around this little seed; a structure that supports or carries the seed, gives it momentum and animates the idea! Through rehearsing, sometimes even downing tools for a thorough discussion, a piece evolves.

In fact, most on the tunes are constantly influx hence the three versions of Geronimo we have in circulation! We are also willing to leave tunes unfinished and gig test ideas when they are still small. Hearing these little seeds on loud PA’s, in different rooms and through different ears often shows us a way forward.

When you first embarked on this album, did you have anything specific - either sonically or thematically - that you wanted to achieve?

At the very heart of it I think we wanted to create a unique aural artefact that would light up the neural pathways!

We did have a variety of rhythms and sound combinations we wished to document and thematically these fell within the mechanical and/or cosmic. Of course once we started adding layers of throat and electronics they took on a life of their own and the material started to meld the concepts. The concepts of Mechatronics came near the end when could step back and assess “well, what do we have here?”

Were there any influences or inspirations that you can cite as influential for this record?

I feel that so much of life, thought and experience, influence our music; just as with any decision, there are many known and unknown factors in what you do. If I could sing one note that could communicate everything, I would. Alas, I cannot and it is for this reason that true collaboration is the most rewarding experience; through collaboration, ideas exist that you would never have articulated alone. I love the feeling of helping someone realise their own ideas and perhaps illuminate things within their idea that they have not yet seen, and vice versa.

More generally, your influences and inspirations seem to come from both pretty disparate music genres, and places completely outside of music. Can you explain a little bit about the underlying shtick of the All Seeing Hand?

Music references experiences and relationships that language cannot capture; it is the ultimate metaphor.

All good music is performed by musicians who have an understanding of what it is to be honest to the music, and the moment, and allow themselves to be consumed in the infinite detail of the now. It is because of this that musical genres can be disparate and influences can come from anywhere; it is only through active engagement in the diversity of life that we can learn about ourselves and learn how to be as articulate as we can.

Each member of All Seeing Hand is involved in other music projects and output? Can you explain a little about these and also tell us how each member influences the All Seeing Hand sound.

The drummer comes from a Punk background and currently plays in Rogernomix and Teen Hygiene. His influence could be his chaotic energy and exuberance for life.

The turntable player comes from a Hip Hop and sample-based composition background and produces solo music as Alphabethead. His influence on the sound could be his passion for the entire sonic spectrum and love of disciplined, economic grooves.

The throat singer comes from a background in sonic art and does solo and group improvisation and plays in Microsoft Voices. His influences on the sound could be his narrative structure, intensity and abstraction.

You guys are a Wellington-based band, and Wellington has a colourful history of producing experimental music. Do you think being based in Wellington has been influential to your sound, and if so, why?

Hugely, because of the people and the community. I was lucky to be around when there was an active group of young musicians wanting to make new music and create their own events. I was fortunate that I was around when Jeff Henderson opened The Space and Happy, and I got stuck in. I had the chance to present, collaborate and perform new music with the regularity of it becoming a lifestyle. I got to immerse myself in listening and talking. I became a part of a community that is still strongly connected, while now being in many places around the world. I got to diversify and open my mind, rather than becoming niche and competitive; it was, and is, always about creating the best music because it is positive for society's mental health.

The Wellington music scene seems to be experiencing a transition at the moment. What are your thoughts on the Wellington music community at the moment and how have you seen it change over the past few years?

It is simmering away beautifully but does seem like it is in transition at the moment. A paradigm shift maybe taking place; shows are moving away from bars to DIY spaces and even bedrooms. There are no gatekeepers to artistic expression and many people are realising this and creating their own live vehicles. It feels like everyone knows that there needs to be new ways of putting on shows so they are finding those ways. And experimenting; and that is healthy.

If possible, could you please choose 3-4 tracks from Mechatronics and give us a sentence or so about each one?

'Mechatronics': This tune stemmed from the sounds and vision of a sprawling mechanized assembly line, methodically crushing, forging and melding an object into existence.

'Maximum Capacity': This was an approximation of the sound made by electrons whizzing through wires or neurons whizzing through the pathways in our brain.

'Cadentia': We felt that with all the racket of the drums and monophonic bass a few moments of tranquillity were essential! Beauty in contrast. We hope Cadentia offers this tranquillity.


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