Short Cuts 6: Sunburned Hand of the Man, Earth, Sabbath Assembly

Plugging a few gaps in the blog with brief reviews of shows I never got around to mentioning at the time.

Sunburned Hand of the Man, Vienna Fluc Wanne, 26 March 2011

Sunburned Hand of the Man seem to be shrinking. The first time I saw them, in Brighton in 2004, there were at least seven of them. Upstairs at the Fluc in 2006, they were down to four. And this time, they played as a duo of John Moloney on drums and devices and Paul Labrecque on guitar. Maybe next time they tour there’ll be no-one at all onstage, just their trippy films to stare at. Which would be a great shame, since even with this attenuated line-up, Sunburned’s long, dizzying jams were a massive pleasure.

Earth/Sabbath Assembly, Vienna Arena, 1 May 2011

Dusty guitar drones and low-end wallop from Dylan Carlson and group. On first acquaintance there’s something starkly beautiful about these dry, agonizingly slow instrumental pieces. But as the evening wore on I found myself wishing for more light and shade both in pace and in setting. The grinding repetition and lack of variation in the tunes gradually became very oppressive indeed.

Much more enjoyable were the support band Sabbath Assembly, a bizarre cultish collective (including the blond college-boy percussionist from No-Neck Blues Band, and I know what he’s up to) who have taken it upon themselves to sing “hymns” written by the Process Church of The Final Judgement, a 60s/70s religious group that worshipped both God and Satan. I remain unconvinced by the message but the songs themselves were highly entertaining, the psychedelic excesses of the vocals matched by the whirling, swirling demeanour of the group.

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