Luca Lozano and Fett Burger’s first volume of Hands of Doom was a smasher of a record which took hold of that proto-rave framework and knocked it around until it fitted contemporary moods. Although its influences were pretty obvious, it still felt very modern, with little touches and a depth of production that perhaps softened those originally far rawer edges just a little bit but added a tight groove all of their own. This second volume pretty much kicks of where the first one ended, and is the forerunner of an album that’s to be released on Lozano’s own Graffiti Tapes label in the hopefully near future.
Actually, it’s probably wrong to say that this is simply picking up where the last one stopped. Although both records have a similar vibe and obviously come from the same place in terms of influence, Hands of Doom 2 is harder to pin down, taking its ideas from a wider section of the old and new schools. SignalRod prowls the no man’s land that lies bewtween rave and the drum & bass which grew out of it. The beats are classic – rough but tight, shifting under the pop of the snares and electrifying percussion; the rising chords that shuffle sleepily throughout the track, though, are from the same dreamland that Doc Scott and Bukem inhabited in their more introspective moments. But there are just enough other moves within the music to halt it from ever becoming too respectful of the past. The bleeps that soak through the synths, melting into a weirdly exhilarating and discordant lather are as playful as the beats are heavy.
Telegronn immediately subvert the entire approach by drowning us in some finely crafted, and very funky, house which latches a collapsing, ravey riff to the wild bucking sub bass that’ll turn your stomach to liquid. It’s a jacker without the slightest touch of Chicago, coming across as a paean to sweaty, strobe and dry ice filled nights in the sort of early nineties superclubs where the underground was once not only welcomed but encouraged. It just pumps out sass and warmth; unpretentious but compelling.
Best of the lot is Dybla – a warped half-breed that flicks memories of jungle, rave, house and God knows what else into your face with gleeful abandon. Time stretched vocal snips and that Loon sample from Sueno Latino (which used to be so ubiquitous) duke it out over a bass so rubbery you could use it as a trampoline; the whole thing wraps itself up with a gloriously understated but still potent latin feel that’ll leave you feeling every bit as touched as it obviously is.
It’s not perfect. Occasionally it feels a little bit too knowing, the vibe a little bit too nuanced and precise, the production, like the first record, a little bit too clean and lacking the genuine rawness that made a lot of this music so much fun the first time around. But that is really just nit-picking, and it never sets out to sound like a time capsule anyway, which is a lesson a lot of other producers could do with learning. What it succeeds in is filtering the mischief of those genres that still remain weirdly overlooked back into the underground where they belong, and it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than listening to yet another modern and anaemic Strictly Rhythm rip-off. It bodes well for the album. More of this please.