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UTR Premiere: Stream The All Seeing Hand's New Album 'Sand To Glass'

UTR Premiere: Stream The All Seeing Hand's New Album 'Sand To Glass'

Thursday 1st December, 2016 2:47PM

In the wake of sharing singles 'Swarm' and 'Cro Magnon Corp' over the last month, genre-defying Wellington trio The All Seeing Hand are letting loose their incredible new full-length album Sand To Glass. The 10-track offering, which was laid down with Vanya at Scumbag College and mastered by Kog's Chris Chetland, sees the three-piece push into new territories to build up a comprehensive sonic journey that traverses the chasm between the emergence of civilisation and its almost imminent demise.

While the three-piece are midway through their nationwide album release tour, we have the privilege of presenting the debut airing of Sand To Glass for you to stream. Listen below while you read our interview with the band, and then head to their Bandcamp page to order your very own copy on vinyl...

Hey ASH!! Love the new album! As hinted with your singles, this record definitely expands the vocal realm with the inclusion of more lyrics than your previous offerings. What was the driving force behind that?

As a touring band we spend a lot of time together, and in that time we discuss many things; it means that we begin to understand each other as a group and our shared concerns. It became not only another ingredient in the sonic landscape we are compelled to explore but also a compulsion to become articulate about our outlook.

When writing and recording Sand To Glass, what were the key things you hoped to convey 
as a band thematically and/or sonically?

Sonically, we wanted to broaden our palette and incorporate more sounds and textures. It now includes screaming community choirs, the classic analog Synthi EMS synthesiser, the warmth of the tovshuur (Mongolian 2-stringed fiddle) and some overtly digital and 8-bit textures. This record has some of the most sonically dense, maximalist passages and delicate, bare moments we’ve managed so far.

Thematically we also had more space to let things develop into something cohesive and worldlike. The album communicates a broad narrative arc, telling the story of a world from inception of civilisation to overconsumption and decline, death and the hope of a different rebirth. Within that landscape we’ve had plenty of space to draw threads between things that are happening right now and recursive higher-level dynamics unfolding on a different timescale.

Given the themes in Sand To Glass, which seem to view society as vulnerable to domination, are The All Seeing Hand pessimistic about the future? Or is this intended as a warning? Or maybe do the All Seeing Hand welcome subjugation with open arms?

It’s an interesting time to be making music. The themes in Sand To Glass emerged as a reflection of the dystopian sociopolitical environment we’re faced with right now, but from a zoomed-out perspective that looks more at patterns than specific events; the emergence and normalisation of mass surveillance over the last few years, the rise of fear-mongering reality-TV stars as political leaders, all against backdrop of ravenous neoliberal capitalism extracting so much that the capacity of the Earth to sustain life is literally under threat. But at the same time the album conveys ecstatic optimism for transformation in resistance to destruction. It’s definitely more about asking questions than offering answers, but hope and imagination seem more important than ever.

Towards the album’s conclusion we are left with a society that is on the edge of a black hole, but continues to accelerate towards collapse with wilful ignorance. And perhaps the end result is a fresh start and a new way to negotiate our existence as social beings in the universe.

One of the most obvious samples on the record is the iconic Mario jump sound… did any issues arise with getting that cleared??

To be honest, none of us have ever played Mario. That was actually the sound of Jonny jumping in the studio when he unlocked a new vocal power!

We were stoked to the album will be available as double gatefold vinyl! Can you tell us a bit about that??

We love the space that gatefold vinyl gives for artwork. We really wanted Sand To Glass to exist in the same universe as the Mechatronics cosmos, visually as well as sonically. The gatefold cover was created by Daily Secretion (aka Hannah Salmon), who also did the artwork for Mechatronics. The precision of her work and her subtlety of mood creates long moments of contemplation and marvel in us, and we are stoked to be able to share that feeling with others. Alphabethead created the landscape collage on the inside largely inspired by the photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher.

You’re midway through your album release tour... how’s it going? Are there any unique challenges to delivering this material live?

Holy shit! It has been so sweet so far!

For the whole South Island tour we're joined by E/N/T and Unsanitary Napkin, which means a really musically diverse lineup for every show. And it's been a total delight to be crammed all in one van together. We've also been playing with amazing local bands in each city; Gloria Vale blew us away in Christchurch last night, Alien Abduction Survivors' Club were spectacular in Marahau, and we're really really looking forward to playing with Astro Children again in Dunedin tomorrow night.

We finally played Nelson, at a place called Paradox, which is more of a museum of zoological oddities than a venue! Tim’s Place in Marahau is always a highlight, playing in a huge hall that used to be a tobacco-drying shed right by an estuary, now occupied by a masterful wood-carver who also happens to be one of the nicest people on the planet. We always spend a few extra days up there after the gig, getting caught in sandstorms at Wharariki and exploring vast caves containing mummified cows in Kahurangi national park.

In terms of challenges playing live - before recording we had skeletal versions of all the tunes to make sure we didn’t end up writing anything that was impossible for three people to play live. However, after all the overdubs, some of the songs did get pretty hectic. To perform the electronically dense sections on the album Jonny has to jump behind the turntable and lend a few extra hands, and David has to join Ben on the drums for some impossible percussion!

The All Seeing Hand
w/ Unsanitary Napkin and E/N/T

Friday 2nd December, Dunedin Musicians Club, Dunedin
Saturday 3rd December, Lyttelton Coffee Co, Lyttelton
Sunday 4th December, The Playhouse, Mapua
Friday 9th December, The Yot Club, Raglan *
Friday 16th December, Whammy, Auckland
Friday 23rd December, Meow, Wellington w/ Womb
Saturday 24th December, WPA Secret HQ, Whanganui

*no Unsanitary Napkin at this date, sorry folks!


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