Tortured and confused backwards album cover, collaged images depicting the im/balance of natural beauty and societal discomfort. “A Grand Tour of Tunisia” is the new 2 album LP by Sunburned Hand of Man out on Three Lobed Recordings.
Side A begins with loose “free jazz” drums and guitars playing syncopated ostinato passages in unison that overtime begin to register as drone, static and dynamic. A “noodle” session by the bass and lead guitars inhabit their individual registers. It feels good. It makes for a freaky psychedelic introspective sound that could easily be disguised as muzak in your local transindentists office! Track two cuts in so abruptly that you feel (again the word jerked) into a new space/time continuum. Thankfully, the sound world is very similar but now showcases a ripping guitar lead set back in the mix.
Side B starts immediately with a rocking 4/4 repeated bass and guitar riff over a solid beat. Heavily effected samples of voices and bleeps hover around as the riff begins to deteriorate ending just in time. A slow burner ensues. The bass is funky and the improvised lead vibe continues now with both guitars “letting loose.” I appreciate the role of the drums and bass as “rhythm section” on this album whether executing loose free jazz densities or jam band funk beats with a touch of southern chopped and screwed…. I am beginning to hear African High Life influences in the repetitive melodic figures. Some of the scales allude to Arabic modes… Side B ends with a quasi-heavy metal guitar chord riff, a go-go beat, and a repeating lush phasing melody that feeds your already well-nourished trancelike state. I enjoy how the various moods and tempos progress throughout this album. Each song seems to take you further into the collective mind of this band.
Side C continues to explore trans-like repetitive rhythms and guitar ostinato. I also hear two new instruments: the Asian free reed mouth organ and “live” voice. For a moment, the voice is the loudest instrument I have heard yet, reciting pros in an ominous voice and lasting one or two sentences before leaving you. This piece drones and pulses and is the longest track on the album. Side C ends with a groove that introduces the pan flute, drum machine and sleigh bells… Think “Undone - The Sweater Song” by Weezer on the 5th day of a peyote session deep in mother’s garage.
Side D is abstract; AMM meets MEV at a Grateful Dead parking lot post Jerry. This album is equal parts groove, jam, repetition, improvised electronics, pure ambience and texture all combined to make an excellent heavy psychedelic experience! 8/10 -- Zachary Watkins (4 June, 2009)