2CD, Hands Productions, 2010
Usually featuring three tracks by each participating artist, the “XXXX Hands” series is a good introduction to the German label Hands Productions and certainly helps if you just wish to keep informed of current label developments. “2010 Hands”, the 2010 edition, follows suit from previous instalments in the series, presenting material by a variety of artists, from relative newcomers (like incite/ and 16pad Noise Terrorist) to label staples (such as Orphx and S.K.E.T.) along with material by less familiar side projects (like 13th Monkey and Syntech).
Disc 1 presents an eclectic mix of dance-friendly and experimental sounds and may well be the most interesting half of “2010 Hands”. Hamburg-based duo incite/ open the first half of the compilation with an interesting breed of distorted dance-friendly tracks with a definite and contagious groove while avoiding predictable 4/4 distorted beats. Though competently executed, Geistform’s follow-up tracks are less surprising and some might well refer to this material as “standard Hands fare” rhythmic noise. However, things pick up for the remainder of the disc and the listener is treated to a strange musical trip that begins with Orphx’s always magnificent and flawless tribal-industrial sound, moves through Shorai’s idiosyncratic clockwork-driven mechanically precise rhythmic patterns (which are admittedly something of an acquired taste) and concludes on a (very) high note with 16Pad Noise Terrorist and his furious industrial/d’n’b hybrid sound.
Disc 2 is what one normally associates with Hands Productions: rhythmic noise. Veteran producer Steffen Lehmann opens hostilities as Greyhound, staying true to form without any surprises. Maschinenkrieger Kr52 vs. Disraptor follow suit, but their combination of heavy bass and high-frequency quasi-melodic beat does come across as particularly intriguing when played on a good stereo. S.K.E.T.’s brand of ideologically-driven fast and furious rhythmic noise can be regarded as more than apt heirs to Winterkälte and, though somewhat predictable, there is definite honesty to their material. 13th Monkey, the dance-oriented side project of Andreas Thedens from KiEw, is hardly surprising once you get to know it – its strength lying not in recorded material but in live performance. The closing also comes courtesy of Steffen Lehmann’s quasi-tribal side-project Syntech – material which, for coherency’s sake, would be better suit to Disc 1 of this compilation.
In the end, most of the contents of this compilation should come across as fairly familiar to those used to the musical aesthetics of Hands Productions. Nevertheless, there are a few surprises which make it worth checking out.
— Miguel de Sousa