Track of the Day – Dirt Hand “Lion” (2019)

It’s hard to put Melbourne’s Dirt Hand into a genre. Even the bands own press release goes so far as to label the project “art-wank”. It’s part neo-folk, alt-rock, jazz but at all times it is experimentally enchanting and atmospheric.

Built off a series of hand clap patterns, Arun Roberts set out for spontaneous creation. “Lion” and the whole EP it comes from, The Thorn Variations, captures the experience of musicians still figuring out their parts as the record button is pressed. Roberts’ vocals are reminiscent of Nick Cave and Matt Beninger of The National and lie over an urgent and pulsing brass and percussion line. “Lion” is paired with a video directed by Freeman Trebilcock.

“In early 2016 I stumbled upon a band by the name of Aia Trio. I was so struck by their intuitive playing style that I approached them immediately with the idea of making a record together. I assembled six other of my favourite Melbourne musicians,” Roberts says. “I don’t like things to sound too prepared so we didn’t rehearse at all. Instead I had drawn up a series of rhythmic variations and several chord chats. We performed everything live and in the one room.”

“[The musicians] approached the four songs I presented to them with a spontaneity and agility reminiscent of jazz or improvised classical music yet sounding like Nina Simone bludgeoning Lenard Cohen gently over the head with a velour lamp shade.”

Dirt Hand’s The Thorn Variations is out now on all digital platforms, select record outlets and via their website HERE.

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