Hidden Hands is a double-CD compilation from Left Hand Right Hand including a selection of early releases gathered together for the first time, plus new tracks, live recordings and previously unreleased material.

Left Hand Right Hand occupy a grey area once inhabited by the likes of 23 Skidoo and early Clock DVA – a fusion of industrial, ethnic and jazz, before dissolving into an unobstructed discovery of their own. Music from the Empty Quarter, 1993

Formed in the mid 1980s, brothers Andrew and Tim Brown are the only constant members of the ensemble and have been joined over the years by a diversity of musicians in a number of line-ups. Featured on the release are longstanding current members Charlie Collins (Clock DVA, The Box) and Karl Blake (Lemon Kittens and Shock Headed Peters), plus Paul Ackerley (Zahgurim), Sally Doherty (The Sumacs), Lol Coxhill, David Knight (Arrkon), Derek Saw (Hornweb), Kathy Hulme (The Honkies) and percussionist Q (In the Nursery).

The two CD package - with recordings culled from UK, US and Italian labels - features new sleeve notes written by Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire and Wrangler).

CD1

1 Raised to the Ground 7.03
2 Worker’s Playtime 1.47
3 Two Man Bob (1991) 3.51
4 Hot-Heads 5.17
5 Rank and File 4.19
6 Disc Jockey 0.28
7 Fat Tuesday 3.22
8 Ticker Tape 5.02
9 Jagannath 3.28
10 White City 3.10
11 Dead Man’s Handle 3.31
12 Two Man Bob (1993) 3.04
13 Gum for the Natives (live) 2.44
14 Rise and Fall 5.45
15 Puppet Death 5.15
16 Untitled 0.40
17 Cold Horses 0.30

Andrew Brown - drums, percussion, guitar, voice
Tim Brown – drums, percussion, violin, voice, corrugaphone
Paul Ackerley – synthesisers, programming, drums, percussion, voice
Karl Blake - bass, guitar 
Charlie Collins – alto sax, B flat and bass clarinets, flute, synthesiser 
+
John Ball – tabla on Two Man Bob, Hot-Heads
Lol Coxhill - soprano sax on Two Man Bob, Rank and File
George Haslam - baritone sax on Two Man Bob, Rank and File
Dave Knight – guitar on Hot-Heads, Disc Jockey
Karen Madsen - voice on Raised to the Ground, Two Man Bob, Hot-Heads, Rank and File
Q – snare on Rise and Fall; megaphone on Puppet Death
Pol Wijnberg – voice on Hot-Heads, Raised to the Ground; flute on Hot-Heads

Tracks 1-6 from Hum Drum 1991 12” EP (Tak Tak Tak TAK03) and CD (We Never Sleep WNS016)
Written by Brown/Brown, Ackerley
Recorded and mixed at DMF, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Dave Knight; engineered by Zara (Zi) Hill

Tracks 7-12, and 14 from Legs Akimbo 1993 CD (Tak Tak Tak TAK10) written by Brown/Brown, Ackerley except White City Brown/Brown, Ackerley, Blake and Rise and Fall written by Brown/Brown
Recorded and mixed at DMF, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Zara (Zi) Hill

Track 13 recorded live Kino Tecza, Warsaw Oct 1990 written by Brown/Brown, Ackerley, Blake

Track 15 from Rise and Fall / Puppet Death 1994 7” (ND N o D 03) written by Brown/Brown, Collins, Q
Recorded and mixed at DMF, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Zara (Zi) Hill

Track 16 from The Answering Machine Solution 1996 CD compilation (Staalplaat CD STCD 100)

Track 17 previously unreleased, written by Brown/Brown, Collins
Recorded and mixed at The Sound Kitchen, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Charlie Collins.

CD 2

1 Going Under 4.01
2 Gum 2.29
3 LMF 2.31
4 Call and Answer 2.21
5 Silhouette 6.15
6 Naming Names 3.34
7 King Mob 5.31
8 Rise and Fall 2.45
9 Push Me Pull You 3.03
10 Swagger Stick 4.15
11 North Circular 3.11
12 Last Word 2.55
13 Bluest Sky 2.01
14 Naming Names 2 5.35
15 King for a Day 2.37
16 Sleeping Sickness 4.15
17 Naming Names 2 (Reprise) 2.30
18 The Airman 5.02
19 Light Vessel Automatic 7.38

Andrew Brown - drums, percussion, guitar, voice
Tim Brown – drums, percussion, violin, voice, corrugaphone
Karl Blake – bass, guitar
Charlie Collins – alto sax, B flat & bass clarinets, flute, piccolo, percussion,
synths, WX5 midi controller
+
Sally Doherty – voice on North Circular, Naming Names 2, King for a Day, The Airman
Kathy Hulme – voice on Going Under
Q – snare on LMF, Rise and Fall, King Mob
Derek Saw – cornet on Swagger Stick, Last Word, The Airman

Tracks 1-8 from In Mufti 1995 (CD) Musica Maxima Magnetica (eee 33) written by Brown/Brown, Collins except Call and Answer Brown/Brown, Collins, Blake
Recorded and mixed at DMF, Sheffield by Left Hand Right Hand and Zara (Zi) Hill,
and The Sound Kitchen, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Charlie Collins.

Tracks 9-19 previously unreleased 1997 – 2019, written by Brown/Brown, Collins, Blake
Recorded and mixed at The Sound Kitchen, Sheffield, by Left Hand Right Hand and Charlie Collins.

 

Stephen Mallinder's sleeve notes:

Location north of England but in truth a wild ride through the dirty, dusty hinterlands of the world’s tin pot regions. Fusing the future sounds of abandoned factories and north African market places: one part jujuka, one part urban collapse; shaken vigorously, never stirred.
A melting pot of ideas, sounds, textures that are both ‘perplexing and electrifying’ (to quote one reviewer, Pete Morris). A collection of tracks that feel as much at home in a Greyhound bus station, an abandoned stop in the Interzone, or chip shop on London Road.

The sound is one of long shadows and flashes of crimson red: a call and response. Voices drift across thick treacly air, oblique conversations, subterranean: it’s always 4am in this shifty cellarworld. Left Hand Right Hand so familiar, yet so alien, exotic and joyfully lost. Frenetic percussion and the splintered drama of the voice - like some lost Kurt Weill play, crackling through the ether – a return to Weimar‘s sturm und drang.

Recordings as cosmopolitan as they are aesthetic. A whole banquet of sonic delicacies for us to feast on, a flavour of Left Hand Right Hand’s very live, real time, music action. These works take us on a wild ride inside their euphoric minds and out into the European late-night bars and back rooms where they set up and cut loose.

Freeform freakout but, keeping the culinary metaphor going, they themselves avoid the gluttony and excess that can potentially accompany the deft process of the improvisor. There is discipline, an order, and sense of destination. Everything drills back into the economy of rhythm, nothing is wasted, lost or (over)indulged.

In live shows Left Hand Right Hand often provided a freefall soundtrack to accompany the grey and grainy flickers of lost cinema. But the sounds themselves require no nickelodeon; they alone conjure up noir, celluloid imaginings. David Lynchian, creeping deliciously into your dreams and nightmares.

Imagine car chases, cinematic tension, the looping motifs that make up Fat Tuesday. Nocturnal. Rising tension, beating time, spooky passageways and rain-soaked walls in Raised to the Ground. The esoteric, sprinkled with eastern spices, merely an inuendo, never binged. The runs and motifs rip through to create arpeggiated ear worms, Call and Answer, and into the full-blown technicolour soundtrack of Rank and File.

Amongst metal and wood, steam and steel, emerges sparse and eerie voice, beautifully placed as granular instrumentation. Sparing use of bass chops, cyclical rhythms driving the whole kit and caboodle. Synth arpeggios and swirling organ stabs of Bluest Sky take us on a rollercoaster ride - Dante’s Fairground - into fuzzed and sleazy Naming Names. Freestyle interaction of dissonant voice, piano and motorik 16ths rhythms, Going Under, offering an uncertain narrative. Memories of some deep buried and smoky past … and it returns more twisted than before. Oh the tales they can tell.

Amongst all this there are so many knowing connections, intersections, and links. Gum suggestive of the loose funk of ‘No New York’ and all that was good in Arto Lindsay. And big band warped and caroused, through the backwards slur of Ticker Tape like the soundtrack to a forgotten Jim Thompson novella. The tighter regulation cyclical beats, LMF, and frantic communication in the drums of Light Vessel Automatic like northern industrial Griots - rhythms telling tales of dark deeds and misdemeanours. Einstürzende Neubauten grains reassembled through the discipline of the beat: skeletal funk, jazz fed on a diet of gruel and amphetamines, White City. The tom-tom tribalism of Deadman’s Handle sounds like something kept hidden in Orson Welles pocket in a Touch of Evil. These are titles to set the pulses racing and suggest uncertain but possible musics.

Dancing to the playfulness of tracks, moving up through the gears, picking up in complexity: rhythm and counter rhythm. Rotary motion and intensity, Hot Heads, slipping into a more paranoid state. In contrast Disc Jockey’s humour illustrates Left Hand Right Hand’s knowledge of sampledelica, a world in which they happily co-existed: processed drum sounds and looping vocal sound-on-sound any Sheffield electro pioneer would be proud of, Two Man Bob, a declaration of time’s connection and place’s roots.

There is so much here to spark memories and alarms. The steam hammer blues of Naming Names sounds so current and contemporary. Surfs up!! King for a Day Sandy Nelson we will not forget you. Charlie Collins, Karl Blake, Brown Brothers – Tim and Andrew and their fellow travellers and collaborators. We salute you!

Left Hand Right Hand are like a snow globe 20th Century subcultural sounds shaking atoms of blues and freeform, tribal rhythms and fractured funk, esoteric electronic and shortwave radio: signals from a distant planet partying as it collapses.

In a dissipating post-pandemic, millenarian, world Left Hand Right Hand’s sonic essays seem oh so relevant. The sound of evanescent solar flares, blinding lights that slowly dissolve. Energy to atrophy but leaving behind the twinkling embers of heat and light. Enjoy, burn your fingers, feel alive.

 

Stephen Mallinder 2020