Lothar & the Hand People

This Is It Machines

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Lothar & the Hand People may be best remembered for their moniker rather than their records. However, the Denver-based quintet of Paul Conley (synthesizer/keyboards/Moog synthesizer), John Emelin(vocals/voices), Tom Flye (drums/percussion), Rusty Ford (bass), and Kim King (guitar/Moog synthesizer/amplifiers) are among the adventurous combos, utilizing synthetic sounds into their own blend of progressive psychedelia and garage rock. Their brief tenure on Capitol Records in the mid- to late-'60s yielded a handful of 45s and a pair of long-players, Presenting. . .Lothar and the Hand People (1968) and Space Hymn (1969). It is from those albums that the 15-track This Is It Machines (1999) has been compiled. Rather than the typical chronological overview, the running order haphazardly juxtaposes material from the two LPs. One primary factor separating the efforts is their incorporation of synthesizer-originated bleating and droning, which at times comes off as little more than a sonic novelty. This renders the musique concrete "It Comes on Anyhow" as dated, rather than futuristic. This experimentation all but unravels the vocal-less 'jam' during "Today Is Only Yesterday's Tomorrow," making the song seem aimless and meandering. Luckily, not all of the selections suffer from the overambitious electronics, as evidenced by the baroque-flavored "That's Another Story," containing one of their most appealing and amicable melodies. "Sister Lonely" stands out with a chugging rhythm derived fairly obviously from Muddy Waters' "Rollin' & Tumblin'," while "You Won't Be Lonely" sports some of their finest vocal harmonies, atop a raw and garage-laden rock workout that is, at times, slightly reminiscent of the Who. Although not a jam band as such, "Sex and Violence" offers up remarkably cohesive instrumental interaction. While This Is It Machines is a fairly comprehensive overview, collectors and interested parties should note that Space Hymn: The Complete Capitol Recordings (2003) includes both of those titles, along with a handful of single-only sides, into a package of their complete Capitol Records output.

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