The highly praised group return after an extensive break, coming eight years since 2012’s “Form and Control”. Their brilliantly eclectic debut, blending prog-rock flute sections and soul reminiscent vocals, drew compliments from Sir Paul McCartney, while also leading to supporting artists like Bryan Ferry and Franz Ferdinand on tour. The current line-up consists of band steward Daniel Collas, alongside multi-instrumentalist Juliet Swango and synth-manipulator Monika Heidemann.
With the new record “PHB”, the band have shed any musical genealogy (from the first album) which could have been construed as somewhat of a genre-bewilderment, hitherto liberating their direction. A predominant disco leaning is spliced with sufficient pop elements, with the trio retaining their diversity through their analog dance music, yacht rock and gipsy soul style. Entrancing and stirring bass-lines are ubiquitous on the album, as displayed upon “Remain Silent” and “Let Out On The Loose”, which imprison the synapses and refuse to let go. The gradual, majestically layered instrumental jam of “Charm Spectrum” leads seamlessly into the sharp contrast of dancey behemoth “Do It Like You Want”. Elsewhere, “Riot” is reminiscent of Italapop, and others such as “The Healer” take influence from Zappa. Vocalist Monika Heidemann delivers rhythm-infused lyrical phrases with the impact of a snake’s tongue flicker. Across the record, the drums and percussion are exciting and delightfully distinctive, especially their titular handclaps on tracks like “Traveller’s Prayer”. “Phenomenal Handclap Band”‘s latest album manoeuvres intelligently, as fluidly as the Ganges, through pace and genre.
Below is another of the album’s highlights, initially released last year as an EP of remixes.