Album Review

Sand To Glass

Sand To Glass

by All Seeing Hand


Muzai Records
9 / 10
2nd December 2016

Reviewed by Nich Cunningam


Sand to Glass, the fourth full length offering from Wellington’s The All Seeing Hand, signals a shift in tone from their grittier earlier efforts to something smoother, more refined and reflective. Overuse of alliteration aside, their depiction of a world undergoing fundamental change accompanied by the attendant risk of domination by the less scrupulous among us comes at a poignant point in modern history. In a less depressing and more musical sense, Sand To Glass finds the All Seeing Hand broadening their distinctive and definitive palette to produce a fine array of fresh new material.

For anyone who has seen The All Seeing Hand play over the last twelve months, some of the songs on this album will be familiar: 'Cro-Magnon Corp' has been effectively captured in the studio, maintaining its restless energy, stuttering exposition and unsettling dissonance. Likewise the snowballing awkward intensity of 'Lizard Brain' rises to a visceral crescendo of frustration that carries the listener along on a wave of hysteria.

While these tracks are great, it is the less expected songs that really drive this album and provide character. Title track 'Sand To Glass' is exemplary: With sample manipulations that would make Morton Subotnick proud, the song recalls the splendour of the Skeptics’ magnificent 'Agitator' but without appearing to be homage. The closer 'Rag & Bone' sees The All Seeing Hand venture into entirely different and welcome - but perhaps not exactly unexpected - territory: what sounds like a horsehead fiddle is folded into choice layers of samples and percussion to remind us of the many horses in their herd.

The All Seeing Hand have carved themselves a specific and enviable niche over their past three albums and Sand to Glass maintains that tradition while exploring new territories. The songwriting is stronger and more varied, so much so that The All Seeing Hand now find themselves in full voice, producing imaginative, exciting and ambitious works. Forget about the local context, this is a rarity anywhere.





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