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Premiere: The All Seeing Hand Share New Album 'Syntax Error' + Review

Premiere: The All Seeing Hand Share New Album 'Syntax Error' + Review

Kristen Ng / Wednesday 1st August, 2018 9:00AM

Disciples of A.S.H. rejoice! Wellington’s beloved three-headed pet Cerberus, The All Seeing Hand have unleashed their latest conceptual offering Syntax Error, a meticulous piece of craftsmanship that further cements them as one of the most adventurous sonic risk takers in the country. Be prepared to be shaken from your algorithmically ascribed comfort zone, this is not your easy listening, The Breeze.

With drums recorded by Vanya Vitali at Scumbag College in Rongotai before it was demolished last year to make way for the airport expansion, Syntax Error acts as a time capsule to the recent past, with mixing by Alphabethead and mastering by Chris Chetland at Kog building a sonic structure upon an innately punk foundation. Alphabethead bends and chops up samples beyond recognition, meshing Benjamin Knight’s bone shattering snare flams with the inimitable larynx wrangling technique of Jonny Marks. There’s a sense of symmetry throughout - the space landing synth hymns ‘Sulaco Theme I’ and ‘Sulaco Theme II’ mark the start of each side, with every hiss, splash and warble tweaked to reach harmonious maximisation on every track.

‘Hofmann’ is a good old fashioned A.S.H. smash that moves into ‘Every Leader,’ a spooky karakia that breaks down into a strangely groovy mix of rock and roll handclaps. The dynamic title track ‘Syntax Error’ is a stand out with its intricate polyrhythms and industrial scrapings, founding members, the rhythm power couple Benjabethead deserved of this 'Branjelina'-inspired portmanteau. We are treated to a reprised version of 'Geronimo III' which has been recorded and released in different guises since their self-titled album in 2011, Marks’ breathless staccato grunts punctuate the beat before pulling into the punishing bass drop that has underpinned the band’s live set for the past several years. Breath is drawn, sweat drips.

The first single ‘Royal Oil’ is an ominous march towards the dystopian, smog covered skyline, though the warning bells toll with humour as Alphabethead playfully ping-pongs his chirps and burps around on ‘Spectrum'. Just before you get too comfortable, the nauseating bass line on the ear splitting track ‘Want Want’ pulls you back into agitation mode, we are warned not to get too comfortable in our digitally manufactured nests. The album wraps with the instrumental outpouring ‘Mutations’ like the closing scene of a film where the earth has been razed and the survivors are emerging from the dust.

With album art remixing Andrew Mcleod’s 3D symbols with the glitchy loading screen colours of the ZX Spectrum home gaming system of 1982, Syntax Error is a bold and bright confrontation from a band who are constantly pushing boundaries both live and on record. Having just joined the Sonorous Circle family, home to wordsmiths such as Seth Frightening and Womb, Syntax Error emerges as the band’s most cohesive narrative of compositions to date, festering into new melodic avenues of storytelling and songwriting.

While the system is broken and we are trapped waiting for the screen to load, here is the soundtrack in the form of a thundering call to arms. Go shove this in your earholes before your face melts into the luminescent glow of your phone. Godspeed.

Kristen Ng is a China-based promoter, writer and musician from Wellington who runs the touring label Kiwese and performs electronic music as Kaishandao.

The All Seeing Hand's nationwide 'Syntax Error' album release tour continues this Saturday at Auckland's Whammy Bar w/ Motte, Ounce, and visuals by Suren Unka; on Friday 10th August at Wellington's Meow w/ Strange Stains, Orchestra of Spheres, visuals by Abe Hollingsworth and lighting by Bonnie Judkins; and Saturday 11th August at Whanganui's Venue X w/ Castlecliff Lights and Beware the Moon. For tickets and more info head along here.


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The All Seeing Hand - Syntax Error Album Release
Fri 10th Aug 9:00pm
Meow, Wellington