Half-Handed Cloud

Thy Is a Word & Feet Need Lamps

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Experimental/Christian indie rock has far more in common with the British folk movement than it does with traditional American rock & roll. The slightly pagan themes, strange time signatures, communal living structures, and arsenals of found instruments sound awfully progressive, so if the Danielson Famile are Comus, then Half-Handed Cloud are the genre's Incredible String Band. Led by performance artist/multi-instrumentalist John Ringhofer, HHC introduce a melody, destroy it, and then introduce a new one, often in the span of a couple of minutes. Ringhofer's vocal style is very Wayne Coyne (another artist who owes a great deal to the String Band's Robin Williamson), and his trippy ruminations on the band's third release, Thy Is a Word & Feet Need Lamps, fill the 16 tracks with colors both real and imagined. Engineered and mixed by Danielson mastermind Daniel Smith, Half-Handed Cloud's songs are perfect little pop nuggets disguised as atmospheric and horn-drenched mini-symphonies. Like Of Montreal, they're as memorable as you're willing to allow them to be. Opening with the engaging "You Get a Horseshoe" is smart, as it dupes the listener into thinking that the rest of the record is similar -- it is, but far more difficult to ingest. It's like a litmus test meant to weed out the flowers, and by the time listeners reach the Syd Barrett-inspired "Considered It a Loan," they may not realize that the "Madcap Laugh" is on them.

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