Album Review

Invisible Hands, The – “Teslam” – [Abduction]

Thurston Hunger   2/16/2015   12-inch, A Library

Latest installment from Alan Bishop *and* band. Riding a
white and a dark horse, covering tracks near cemeteries,
Bishop always one to point out the unmarkedgraves. The
rotten flavor of totalitarianism never sounded so sweet
when indicted by the shape-shifting character of Alan’s
voice and the sweet, bright-eyed harmonizing of Aya
Hemeda. Their interplay on many of the songs is
exhilirating, as is the varied guitar approaches from
Cherif El Masr, he and Aya were in a band Eskenderella
in Egypt where Bishop has sprung up the past few years.
Yet this is no milk-whitened coffee world music bleating
retreat, it’s an AOR album, unique in this day and age,
but likely hearkening back to Bishop’s FM rock blasting
youth before enlisting in Jodie Foster’s Army. Sure the
lyrics carry the venom of Sun-dried City griot Girls,
and hit on political pitfalls that date back a milennium
or two, but I could have owned this on 8-track back in
the day! So great to hear choruses that rise to the challenge
of a song, or a break that instrumentally articulates as
well as the biting bitter lyrices. Is that Eleanor Rigby
hanging out with “Priests and Poets?” Eyvind Kang guests,
his violin on “Eyes in the Back of Your Head” is vital as
El Masr’s guitar slithers alongside. How about the lenghty
instrumental meditation walking up to the “Slaughterhouse.”
That’s an old school rock move of anticipation. Great organ
touches to the tunes from Adham Zidan add to the mix, listen
to his cheery reverbed death march into “Places” unamed where
acts unseen take place! Bishop’s voice changes costume
frequently and interestingly from song to song, “Over Easy”
summons the slippery sardonic spittle and dry heave disgust
of Uncle Jim, and his amped-up jingoistic dingo delivery on
“Weasel Down” could fill a whole mall where a secret cordoned-off
military outpost hides between huts, pizza and sunglasses. I’m
almost tempted to call this a drone album, not for its mix of
music which ranges from operating ballads and surging rock,
but there’s at least a couple of references to those metallic
angels of death and spying, hovering over distant deserts and
America’s inner cities. The lp is a catchy concoction, especially
with Hemeda’s voice sounding like a lost member of Lush, sweeting
the bitter underlying flavors. At least one definition of Teslam,
the album’s title, refers to a notion of “may you be safe”

Thurston Hunger

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