Monday, August 15, 2011

The Hands of Cain-The Only Sound (2009)

Formed in Athens in the early '80s, the Hands of Cain recorded a handful of tracks before ubmerging into the raki stew of Εξάρχεια.

This collection could pass as a flagship release of Minimal Wave or Wierd Records. All the classic elements of "cold" wave are here: mournful, gusting synth lines, semi-automized drumming, and an inaudible, halfdead vocalist.

But this isn't simply a Greek Bauhaus imitation. The tracks are uneven, spanning as they do three years and various recording sessions. The mood is autumnal, mournful. Yet there are occasional bursts of warmth and sunlight, like when the motorik drums on "Two Steps to the End" cut through the droning synth. The most impressive song is the 7" version of "Pristine Passion." The synth layers aren't so heavy here, and the individual instruments stand out: robotic, clanging drumming, a numb synth line, and guitar that's distinguishable from the synth, instead of being drowned by it.

It's a shame Hands of Cain didn't stick around longer; it sounds like they were headed away from the uniformly grey ambiance of their early work toward something more dynamic.

There's no future! //[kατεβάζω!] //Annalogue Records seems to still have copies of the collection, with "Pristine Passion" included on a separate, white vinyl 7". Props to Urban Aspirines, from which I think I got this originally. The tomb picture has nothing to do with Hands of Cain, it's a sepulchral sculpture from a 13th-century tomb. Deathwave, eat your heart out!

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