Sunburned Hand of the Man


It seems that lately, the world has finally paid a portion of its due to Sunburned Hand of the Man. The long-serving psychedelic enclave has been the bedrock of the Northeast free music mindset, always a revered name around these parts, but the world’s consciousness towards them seems to have been heightened with Aquarium Drunkard’s oral history of the band from last year. With a daunting back catalog, hundreds deep with CD-rs and digital releases, it’s hard to know where to start, but for heads old and new the band’s recent material has been better than ever. Their recent run for Three-Lobed has seen the band in fine form and they work to top themselves on Nimbus. The band is known for their expansive, malleable lineup, but as they settled into the house studio in Turner’s Falls, the band brought to the fold a formidable array of classic and new faces.

What formed is an album that pushes the band forward while embracing all that exemplifies the Sunburned ethos. The record is threaded with readings from poet Peter Gizzi, lending the album its title and giving it an anchor in philosophical splendor. Beside Gizzi, the album also finds Sarah Gibbons adding melotron, longtime expats Josef K, Matt Krefting, and Phil Franklin returning to the studio, and P.G. Six laying down organ on a reworking of Sun City Girls’ “Cruel & Thin.” Franklin’s hand is felt in particular on this record, as it balances between the kosimche pulses behind Gizzi’s aural amble, the scorched psychedelics, and a surprisingly strong amount of song-oriented material. The record winds around the listener, warped by woodsmoke, dampened by moldering pages stacked and re-stacked, and doused in a kind of wooded magic that can only be dredged from the mosses and murk of the Northeastern woods. If this was your introduction to the Sunburned sea chest, then it would be a damn good one, but if you’ve been on the journey for years, this is a particularly potent offering, among the band’s storied heights.

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