echo train

I want to get down to why 'Shaking Hand' is such a fucking perfect track. I guess first you need to know a little about where it sits - at the top end of Women's debut LP Women, which itself is an almost perfect album. Exactly half an hour, 10 songs, a few of them sort of ambient interstitials, the whole thing just seamlessly sequenced and sewn together even though it crosses an array of styles - it is the perfect example of concise synthesis and I wish more and more bands would start making records like this. Stop fucking around with shitloads of songs and length and just get to it.

Elementally, it's all tape recorder grot, fuzzy textures that seem very Chad Vangaalen influenced (dude recorded them), lot of wooden-sounding percussion that loops in interesting ways around the guitars which are kind of shitty-sounding but in a good way. The whole thing is very rickety and knife-edge but in a totally feel good pop way.

So anyway, I think Women's song-making ethos is informed by this kind of very straightforward attempt to shave off the extraneous but to still keep complexity and repetition within songs that might last only one minute. But 'Shaking Hand' goes for like a full 4.44. But it's an album unto itself. So, here goes:

You've just heard the kind of sunny-folky 'Transport Hall' which is one of those songs that goes for literally a minute, and it's all handclaps and tambo and strummed chorus that quietly builds to somewhere, and they've fit the chorus in twice by the time it gets to 1.06:
Soon we will be laughing
Out there on the landing
Now it's too bright
Dancing through ash
You made other plans

The last three lines are sung with an echo with this guy who don't sing normally and has a kind of raspier quality that pits off nice. Then it all winds up with this kind of amazing break for about two seconds after the glockenspiel stops and just at the very right beat, in come the guitars of 'Shaking Hand'.

So these guitars, this song, are a bit of a counterpoint to the whole album really. They come in real urgent, kind of barbed and almost with a kind of hardcore riff that you might get from say And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead. I'm thinking they might be arpeggio too.

They're soon joined by this brilliant stuttered, hollowed beat that kind of trips back on itself, and then in between these guitars and this drum a kind of full blown, 3D fucking circle of music emerges where every little inch of space within the song spectrum is taken up but only by two guitars and a drum beat. And they play off each other in this intricate way but it's not entirely intricate and it’s not really - but almost - prog or anything, because it's all going around like every five seconds and then starting all over again but not missing a beat. And it's cavernous and reverberates but whilst still being all treble and scratched tapes and moss.

Then the guitars cut and just this bom-bom-bom-bom beat comes in as "I saw it hit the ground / While no one was around" which then becomes another gorgeous arpeggio and one of them slurs some awesome sounding chorus that ends with "as you / as you" at each couplet. Then back to first cycle, then something about "bloody watches" and another set of complex drum paradiddles - this whole fucking song is just like an exercise in revolutions that pile up on another. It's this constant repetition that nevertheless builds on previous ones like some kind of crazy spiral that lends 'Shaking Hand' its amazing sense of progression and momentum. This song is all forward motion, and by the time it hits up with tom drum and tambourine-atop-snare double beat the whole thing has just got your head moving uncontrollably up-down-up-down.

It's like structure becomes form returns to structure then somehow finds pop. Artifice, precision, urgency.

The whole thing has an energy behind it that is so tightly wound that it always feels like it's just about to kind of somehow find itself stepping a little bit past real-time, like quicker than light, and with that tipping into politics. Like a serpent's head pop through the scrub.

Anyway, just buy the album. There's much more to find yourself dissected by.

Women – ‘Shaking Hand’

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