Mammal Hands announce spell-binding new album ‘Gift from the Trees’, their fifth studio album, pointing to subtle shifts and exciting new departures for the unique trio
“We’re at a point now where playing and writing together can sometimes feel almost telepathic, that as individuals we can tune in to a collective resonance...”
Mammal Hands fifth album ‘Gift from the Trees’ offers a fresh perspective on the unique trio’s singular music. The first to be recorded in a residential studio, the band enjoyed the opportunity to go late into the night searching for a deeper, more organic experience, closer to both their writing process but also their trance-like live performances. While some of the music was pre-composed and had even been performed live, the band also enjoyed the opportunity to improvise ideas in the studio. Drummer Jesse Barrett explains:
We wanted to have a more immersive experience that felt closer to our writing process. One thing that was really important to us was feeling free to jam out ideas as they came to us. We’re at a point now where playing and writing together can sometimes feel almost telepathic, that as individuals we can tune in to a collective resonance and just follow that thread where it wants to go. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a rhythmic, textural flow, like in Sleeping Bear.
There was also a conscious decision to move away from the sound and ambiance of the recording studio, with the band opting to engineer the record with their go-to live engineer Benjamin Capp before mixing the sessions with Greg Freeman in Berlin. The idea was to try and capture more of the energy of the band’s captivating shows, saxophonist Jordan Smart explains:
Considering the group of tracks we had, it made sense to try and capture this process as organically and honestly as possible, and so a change in studio environment felt like the right move to us. Some of the tracks have a raw joy and energy that came with being able to play together again after a long period of time of having been apart, and capture that feeling of just being happy to be in a room with our instruments altogether again.
Whereas for pianist Nick Smart there was also the chance to really go deep into the band’s music:
The new studio environment really opened us up to different ways of working and thinking because we could record at any hour of the day or night. I think this allowed us much more freedom to try unusual ideas and push elements of the music to extremes because we had the time to really focus in on the detail and work on things without time pressure. With some tracks, we were trying to find the boundaries of our playing ability and push beyond that point. With others, it was just getting into the right mindset and putting as much energy and emotion into the take as possible.'
The Welsh environment outside the studio doors seeped into the music presented on Gift from the Trees, with two recording sessions (one in winter and one in the spring) bringing different moods: one bleak and wintery, the other more hopeful and bright – an energy that permeates through tracks such as Kernel and Dimu.