Oxford psych-collective Mandrake Handshake today share kaleidoscopic new effort Monolith, lifted from their forthcoming debut EP Shake The Hand That Feeds You.
Having initially teamed up with the cult indie label for their ‘Nice Swan Introduces…’ series (in partnership with RIP Records) late last year, the hypnotic group have since found label-mates in the likes of Courting, SPRINTS and Anorak Patch, and fast established themselves as one of the most enticing new acts in the UK psychedelic scene.
Detailing their experimental offering, the outfit explained: ‘Monolith is one of our only songs with a more personal approach to the lyrics, broadly about coming of age. For us, the track represents a freedom from the restraints of childhood and simultaneously the anxiety of future independence – uncertainty is the price of being free.’
Shake The Hand That Feeds You is set for release 14 May via Nice Swan Records.
We asked Mandrake Handshake to make us a playlist for the weekend. Tune in.
The Horrors - Moving Further Away
This is the first song I ever heard by the Horrors, courtesy of our percussionist Elvis. We were instantly blown away by everything from hypnotic phased shaker to the lysergic guitar-heavy ending. Its influence hangs like a shadow over everything we write still.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Dropping Bombs on the Sun
This track stands out as one of many masterpieces on BJM’s 2017 album Don’t Get Lost. The very fact that Anton Newcombe was able to create such a unique and luscious sound 25 years after his 90s hay-day is in itself a massive source of inspiration for us. This is, in many ways, a classic BJM song as it soundtracks your journey into simple psychedelic euphoria, but is unconventionally laden with synths and drum machines for a truly dystopian undercurrent.
The Soundcarriers - Caught by the Sun
Probably the most criminally underrated band of our time, I was first put on to the Soundcarriers thanks to a brusque mid-song interjection by Anton Newcombe at a BJM gig. Their vocal arrangements are unparalleled, their mixes are completely transcendent, and their fusion of modern psych and tropicalia has had a profound affect on us. I often cite this as an example of a perfect song: no stone is left unturned and the parts all work perfectly.
Milton Nascimento - Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser
This was the track that really opened us up to Brazilian music, and it’s not hard to see why. The double-stop guitar riff is unlike anything I’ve ever heard and the way it sits on such classic jazz chords is awesome - not to mention Milton’s voice cuts through the mix like cool breeze on a summer afternoon in Rio.
Todd Terje - Strandbar - Disko
I’ve known this song longer than any of the others on this list and there’s plenty of reason for that. After four and half minutes of threatening to burst from swirling synths into something much more thunderous, the denouement arrives in the form of a classic house piano that zings off the walls. Full of energy, life and colour, this disco-house tune even comes complete with one of the greatest breakdowns of all time.
Stereolab - Refractions in a Plastic Pulse
It’s no secret that we are huge fans of Stereolab, but when it came to picking a ‘lab song, we wanted something that captured their ability to mix impossibly delicate arrangements and instrumentation, whilst still retaining their heady and occasionally huge grooves. It helps that this song is at least three songs in one - I hope that’s not cheating! It’s also worth noting that this is the best song on the best ever album.
Vanishing Twin - You Are Not An Island
The most recently released track on the list, this is the jewel in the crown of Vanishing Twin’s 2019 Age of Immunology. The way the production can afford to be so intimate yet overwhelming is beyond belief, and Cathy’s vocals carry comfort and pain in equal measure. It brings me to tears almost every time I listen to it.
Lemon Jelly - Homage to Patagonia
This track is effectively a training guide in how to create the most bad-ass percussion parts known to man. It rapidly shifts between raucous kit sounds, slinky triangles, and a hypnotic bassline: the perfect tune for when things start to get weird. Bonus points for being in the Spaced soundtrack.
Nick Drake - River Man
Nothing I’ve ever heard before or since has sounded like this song. The chords almost defy logic: not having a harmonic beginning or end, yet repeatedly pulling you in and out like a yo-yo. Somehow Nick Drake manages to find a way to create a melody on this that, much like Vanishing Twin, naturally evokes both awe and nostalgia.
CAN - Halleluwah
What’s there left to say about this song? Seventeen-odd minutes, two choruses, and innumerable winding jams later, and you’re still hoping that the call-and-response baseline never ends. Plus Damo’s vocals here are the epitome of cool. I’m told we sound a lot like this live, which is the greatest compliment.