Since 2012 a lot has happened to the talented trio that make up the magic that is Mammal Hands. From busking in Norwich, to playing the RNCM Theatre alongside artists such as GoGo Penguin (the two are certainly kindred). They’ve ticked some pretty impressive boxes along their incline towards mainstream popularity. Individually, the musicians are immensely capable; each could be enjoyed on their own merit. But in combination, something really special happens. To get things started, let's have a listen to a track from their first album, Animalia - released in September 2014.
That should give you a pretty clear idea of what they’re all about. Now that we’ve been introduced to their hectic rhythm and busy melodies, let’s check out the lineup:
Nick Smart (piano)
Jesse Barrett (drums and percussion)
Jordan Smart (saxophone)
Two brothers, Nick and Jordan, had already been creating electronica together before being joined by the band’s third centrepiece and drummer (and tabla expert!), Jesse Barrett. The group’s music contains a journeying quality. Bustling big cities bursting to blooming landscapes, distracted tangents untangled to become rapidly forming, purposeful refrains, deeply resonating with the listener’s experience of the world’s chaotic harmony.
The band’s influences are described to stretch as far as ‘…shamanic African trance music’. Their sound is certainly unique, but it’s hard to pin down what exactly makes this contemporary jazz trio so different from the rest. As far as I can tell, two of the most important contributing factors are, firstly, Jesse Barrett’s innovative addition of the tabla drum (having been trained by legend in the field maestro Sirishkumar Manji). And secondly, the lack in what is usually thought to be key to a band’s structural integrity: Bass. A very interesting addition, and perhaps an even more interesting subtraction; the combination of which alters the texture of the music subtly, but irrevocably.
Their second album Floa is not to be missed. The opening track Quiet Fire, is another great example of densely-packed versatility: no easy feat in under seven minutes!