The Invisible Hands: The Invisible Hands
The Invisible Hands
Alternative & IndieFolk...
In the summer of 2011, Adham ‘Eddie’ Zidan, Magued Nagati and former Eskenderella stalwarts, Cherif El-Masri and Aya Hemeda, came together with former Sun City Girls member, Alan Bishop – also affectionately known as the almighty Alvarius B. On the surface, it’s an unlikely combination, but Bishop’s trademark experimental, and sometimes improvisational, approach to rock and folk has often seen the American dip into the musical stylings of the Middle East and South East Asia.
One year later, in 2012, months of riffing and writing culminated in the group recording their eponymous debut album – one that shows the five-strong group to be remarkably established and confident in sound, with a complex grasp of music in its most elementary of forms. 2013 has already proven to be a fruitful year; the release of the album, in both English and Arabic versions, birthed a mini-tour of sorts, with performances at Cairo Jazz Club, 100Copies Music Space and Discord Music Nights, amongst others.
The album is drenched in a very particular type of darkness and angst, taking Bishop’s deep-seated underground bearing into post-revolution Egypt, and subtle Oriental nuances are threaded into the core of the songs and develop in a very organic way. And although the Invisible Hands have been branded as a psychedelic folk-rock group, the band demonstrates a certain type of versatility that allows them to operate very freely within their brand of music.
Opening track, ‘The Same’, begins with the distant howls of dogs and sirens before launching into an oud solo, of sorts. Ninety seconds in, the track unapologetically throws you into the psychedelia of the Invisible Hands. From then on, the few elements of Oriental music that surface do so with a refinement unbeknownst to local music, most notably via piano in ‘Summer Rain’ and on violin in ‘Death Zoo’.
Apart from said Oriental touches, the Invisible Hands also draw inspirations from a plethora of sources. One such example is ‘Dream Machine’ which reeks of bossa nova, while retaining the underlying murky ambience that runs throughout the whole album. ‘Hitman Boy’ is treated in a similar way, with the group utilising familiar blues sounds under Bishop’s magnetic vocals.
All this has contributed to the fact that the Invisible Hands’ sound lends itself very well to live performances, and anyone who has witnessed the group in action will attest to that. It is dark, it is menacing, but it has soul. The word catchy is often reviled by musicians, but this is, in no uncertain terms, one of the biggest factors in making the album accessible. ‘Black Weather Shoes’ makes for a perfect sing-a-long, ‘Soma’ invites you to twist and we’d challenge anyone to refrain from excessive foot-tapping during ‘My Skull’.
Importantly, however, there are no gimmicks here, no faux eccentricities and the only one who wears skinny jeans is sassy vocalist, Aya Hemeda. Instead, this is a group whose path is firmly set on producing good music. Though Bishop comes with considerable clout and has unequivocally aided the group in finding a platform, there’s an intangible, magnetic energy that fuses the band’s output effortlessly into an engaging, reflective and gratifyingly hazy puff of psychedelic smoke.