Mammal Hands bring their unique sound to Ropery Hall

By janetuplin |

Mammal Hands, a trio of like-minded musicians who first met in 2012 while busking in Norwich, will be playing at Barton upon Humber’s Ropery Hall in the next couple of weeks.

The three – Nick Smart on piano, brother Jordon Smart on saxophone and Jesse Barrett on drums and percussion – have since then carved out a growing following both here and abroad with their hypnotic fusion of jazz, folk and electronica winning fans from Bonobo and Gilles Peterson to Jamie Cullum.

“Drawing on a rich well of influences from Sufi and shamanic African trance music, Irish and Eastern European folk music, to Steve Reich and Philip Glass and more contemporary electronica influences, their music is built around deceptively simple sounding ideas that are lent power through the use of repetition and rhythmic loops,” explained Liz Bennet of The Ropewalk.

“They have been compared to both Portico Quartet and GoGo Penguin (who appeared at Ropery Hall four years ago) for the way in which they navigate the choppy waters between contemporary dance music and jazz,” Liz continued.

“Pianist Nick brings to the group a knowledge of classical Jazz harmonies but also a deep interest in the minimalist composers who have influenced his compositional approach, striving to create hypnotic, rhythmic patterns that can provide a foundation for Jordan and Jesse to build on. It is this unique combination of influences and their unusual baseless line-up that makes Mammal Hands’ sound so distinctive.”

Drawing on influences from Steve Reich to Bonobo and Pharoah Sanders to Cinematic Orchestra, alongside elements of North Indian and African music, Mammal Hands produce their own beautiful, inimitable music – at times wistful and melancholic and others raucous and catchy. They evoke a range of moods, from delicate and subtle to explosive and frantic, blending thoughtful compositions with spontaneity and interplay.

Landmark live performances so far have included shows at King’s Place in London and the RNCM in Manchester, as well as a barn-storming debut at the Montreal Jazz Festival (where they debuted as part of the BBC Introducing showcase).

The group’s latest album, Shadow Work, is due for release on October 27.

“Shadow Work is their third album and the first they have self-produced. Recorded at 80 Hertz Studios, Gondwana Records home from home in Manchester, it is the result of 18 months of intensive touring and mammoth writing sessions,” Liz said.

Now described as one of the hottest acts of UK jazz, Mammal Hands will be appearing at Ropery Hall on Friday, October 20, starting at 8pm.  Tickets to the gig cost £13 in advance or £15 on the door.  Advance tickets can be bought online at www.roperyhall.co.uk, in person from The Ropewalk’s Craft Gallery or by calling 01652 660380.

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By richardhatfield |

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‘Fairground Fables’ was conjured to question the satirical and moral ambiguity of fringe entertainment presented behind the curtains of Vaudeville theatres and Victorian Side Shows. Michelle draws from idioms and fables that play with tales of tragedy and fortune as well as the traces of life that befall the discarded or well loved, by enlivening everyday objects with an air of uncertainty.  She assembles things left behind on dusty shelves, creating magnetic forms that encourage the viewer to take an encounter with the apprehension of things.  ‘Fairground Fables’ is bent with a nostalgic and melodramatic allure that bestows something provocative and enchanting.

 

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I paint out of doors and in the studio. Landscape embodies form, colour and light. Painting can reflect these primal elements and leave us with an object akin to poetry. I play with the picture plane and use paint on various surfaces, abstracted to convey feelings and form with a sense of the drama of the place.
Tim Needham

The subjects are the amalgamation of the remembered, the fleetingly observed and the repeated, emblematic motifs left, like an afterimage imprinted on the retina. I look for a sense of the unfamiliar in the ordinary – a gentle disquiet. Some pieces recall a particular moment or episode, often dramatic and transient such as the effects of light or weather, frequently in the extreme. It is at these times that nature can reassert itself into our consciousness and provide us with a taste of something that is awesome in the true sense of the word. Other paintings are less dramatic and conjure up emotions and associations of particular memories and universal fears from early childhood.
Richard Hatfield

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Throughout his life Max delighted in the unexpected; scenes and buildings which had a tale to tell, or that presented a mood or sharpness which suited his work.

By the beginning of the 1960s he was experimenting with linocuts, monoprints and basic etchings, often using ideas from old postcards and encyclopaedias, which he hoped would depict a sense of surprise and strangeness.

A move to Lincoln at the beginning of the 1970s brought changes. Screenprints was possible: The same ideas, but larger and more colourful prints.

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ALMANAC

An Almanac can be described in general terms as an annual calander which contains a wealth of information such as important days, times of the sun rising and setting and changes in the moon and tides. In the past the Almanac was particularly important to farmers but perhaps their relevance is somewhat diminished. Ron and Jan have each produced a visual Almanac based on the four seasons and the wheel of the year where they have attempted, in their printed pieces, to re-establish the natural connections of the rolling seasons.

Ron: My Almanac wraps localities and phenomena in folklore and myth, elements within the work are symbolic and at times esoteric. The images in the Almanac are lifted from Anglo Saxon and Medieval almanacs and bending them to a response that will resonate with contemporary audiences. I invite the viewer to create their own narrative.

Jan: My Almanac is in Astronomical Seasons where the equinox and solstices mark the beginning and end of each season. It does, therefore, span two calendar years. Spring, Summer, Autumn and the first month of Winter – December are set in 2018. The remainder of winter – January and February, are in 2019. I am concerned with the equinox, solstice and moon shapes on key dates in each month. The images are a mix of Pagan, Christian and general traditions.

Ron Wilson and Jan Stead October 2018

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