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Heavy Hands - Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals

Heavy Hands

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

Years ago, this is what I'd hoped for when laying an ear to "stoner rock", "stoner metal" or whatever it was called…except the poor chemically-bedazzled lads in the groups I was being exposed to seemed far too lysergically stunned to figure out how a song goes together. After a dozen pretty pitiful examples, I moved on to brighter genre fields. Therefore, never having properly grooved into the slot, if that was even possible with those materials, I've no clue whether Heavy Hands would be considered in league with that brief movement, but Smoke Signals definitely stoner music, way psychedelic, and 100% pure 70s right on down to the power trio configuration. That is, these guys nail what the others couldn't find with a map.

The promo literature pejoratively mis-states history in saying that the Hands' psychedelia updates the hallowed sound, making it "relevant". I beg to disagree, as the band basically reifies exactly what some of the lesser-known but very cool groups of the era (Dust, Blue Cheer, Sir Lord Baltimore, T.2., etc.) were engaged in&msadh;and what was relevant then is relevant now. I mean, this is a great example of dead-on re-evocation. Garagey, echoey, fuzzed-out, stripped down, and faithful to what was metal by way of blown-out psych, Smoke Signals is largely instrumental variations on basic themes triangulating all around the chord changes and hash-dripping leads. There are indeed vocals, unpolished, but, just like a lot of the material from the day, they're secondary, a way of inserting the human voice in there somewhere.

The front liner is blank except for the Eastern-cum-PreColumbian-cum-Aleut art on the cover, and the rear liner credits everyone but the band members…who it turns out are Ambassador Hazy (Guitar, vox), Mystical Revelation (bass), and Cristal Voyager (drums). To the groups I've already mentioned, add Grand Funk Railroad (mostly in the drums), and random portions of Amon Duul II, Clear Blue Sky, Stray Dog, and the fringier ensembles of the heyday of the sound. It's entirely appropriate that Heavy Hands is appearing on the Language of Stone label, which features a lot of experimental prog but, in this group's case, travels back to when all the experimentation started.

Track List:

  • Can't See Thru
  • Black Heart
  • Before It Takes Hold
  • She Got It
  • Seesaw From Stonehenge to Saturn
  • No. 6
  • I Stand Accused
  • 3 Days Gone
All songs written by Heavy Hands.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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