Handle, a Manchester three piece formed from two members of the chaotic seven piece Castle Face signed DUDS (bassist Giulio Erasmus and drummer Nirvana Heire) who are joined by genderqueer multidisciplinary artist Leo Hermitt on vocals and synth. They a make a gonzo post… something junk shop racket. With only vocals, synth, bass and drums they create a kind of abstract minimal no wave disco experience that is fidgety, cyclical and captivating. The synths clang, sweep and stab, Erasmus’s bass sounds like it’s made of rubber bands, expanding and contracting throughout hitting a space between funk and fuck knows what somewhat akin to 80s weirdos Stump. Heire’s brilliantly trashy drums drive the songs through multiple cowbell disco grooves, Drumbo style scattering sections, monotonous Can-like repetition and utter chaos.
Vocal Exercise opens the album with entertaining vocal gibberish, fidgety bass and scattering drums, the synths serve as an exclamation mark accentuating the start of various bars. It’s a disorientating introduction that sets the tone of what’s to come.
Where Handle particularly delight is when they lock into a catchy groove and Hermitt hits a staccato vocal repetition like in the superb Punctured Time. The bassline is almost jazzy and hits a frenzied groove with the 3/4 drums. The synths bend and stab to provide dynamic flourishes along with what sounds like a flexatone which adds a cartoonish effect.
Erasmus takes over vocal duties on What it does which, like all of the tracks on In Threes, doesn’t outstay its welcome. It displays the kind of danceable fury that we saw on Parquet Courts’s “Wide Awake” and distills it into just over a minute and a half. Life’s Work is another hip shaker with Hermitt back at the vocal helm with their confident sloganeering before things take a slightly loungey turn then kick back into a Contortions funk.
Coagulate displays the bands abstract chops. The minimal accompaniment to Hermitt’s almost beat poetry phrasing descends into delightful chaos halfway through before falling back into form.
Sunday Morning is a woozy my Sharona and super playful highlight mhmm provides Hermitt’s most charismatic vocal performance. The three note bass line in the verses will have you itching to dance.
Rubber Necks sounds like it is constantly on the verge of clattering down the stairs, all disjointed and lopsided. Heire’s drumming is exceptionally creative. In tention almost serves as a kind of calmer sister track. What really strikes us about the bass throughout this album is that it makes chorus sound like a worthwhile effect, whereas it often sounds very cheesy and dated.
Handle serve up one last banger with the strutting Step By Step. The instructive vocals serve as the commands to a frenetic line dance. Yet, still they’re not done and Describe, an understated almost samba drum track, finishes things off with Erasmus’s questioning sparse bass parts the only other accompaniment to the vocals that become robotically delayed before fading into a subtle deconstruction.
There is a great atmosphere running throughout this record. It feels like a cohesive statement. You do get the feeling that Handle may benefit from expanding their horizons on future releases as they have pretty much got this style down to a fine art.
You may enjoy this if you like: DUDS, Captain Beefheart, Stump
In Threes is due out on March 6th via Upset The Rhythm. Pre-order here: http://upsettherhythm.bigcartel.com/product/handle-in-threes-lp-cd-pre-order
Listen to ‘Punctured Time’ here: