Announces debut LP “International Dreams” due 3rd November on Shape Records
“I’m hooked, I’m a lifer. I get in a funny mood if I have too long in-between gigs.” Mark Daman Thomas is completely content with his addiction to being on stage. Then again, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a member of Islet, celebrated for the seismic exuberance of their live shows.
Sparked by an interest in the craft of solo performance, Mark’s latest project Farm Handtakes his musical explorations into a more solitary terrain, drawing inspiration from his homeland in the sparsely populated hills of Mid-Wales. Freewheeling and full of deep, cyclical melodies, Farm Hand‘s debut LP “International Dreams” was recorded in a barn studio on the working family farm of Pontvane, Radnorshire, with producer Rob Jones (Sweet Baboo, Slow Club). It is a reflection on the realities of rural life, built on car boot beats, field recordings, loops and second-hand organs.
“Most of the recording was done in spring, which coincided with lambing. I was going out to the shed every couple of hours to check on the sheep and help birth lambs when necessary, ” explains Mark, warning, “I wouldn’t recommend it. It might sound romantic but it was somewhat distracting. The two things don’t marry up too well.”
Melancholy and subtly unnerving, Precision opens this collection of wonderfully evocative, distinctly Welsh moments of pastoral psychedelia that shimmer with absurdist humour and melodic sensibilities reminiscent of Mark’s compatriots Euros Childs and Sweet Baboo.
However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Farm Hand ploughs his musical furrow in a far wider, more experimental and darker field than may first appear. Perhaps an exploration of solo project parameters, his sonic reference frame extends towards the likes of Bradford Cox’s solo moniker Atlas Sound and Dirty Beaches, a defunct project of the nomadic David Lynch devotee Alex Zhang Hungtai. According to Daman Thomas, the biggest influence on the album was the genre-splicing, haunted provocateur pop of U.S. Girls, aka Toronto-based artist Meg Remy.
The album’s lo-fi aesthetic conjures up images of expansive landscapes and rural tranquility that slide into more surreal territory, giving rise to the suspicion of something uncanny happening just below the surface.
Built around a single keyboard loop and melodic incantations, Solution has a hypnotic, meditative quality. An homage to Mark’s “continued desire and preparedness to play international football for Wales”, the title track, International Dreams, reveals elements of surreal humour that comes to the forefront in the delectably ludicrous lyrics of Search Engines ( “I never do anything unless I google it first”) delivered in a menacing hermetic chant.
“It was all recorded pretty quickly and instinctively. As I’m sure you can probably tell, I don’t tend to agonise over decisions or want to tweak stuff for hours,” explains Daman Thomas. “I don’t really like singing into posh mics in vocal booths. Luckily Rob (Jones, who produced the record) was on board with that and had boxes full of weird little mics and circuit bent pedals. We had a lot of fun with those.”
The result is a 10-track psychedelic trip into Welsh countryside. With occasional glimpses of something dark and solemn, Farm Hand‘s debut venture brings together the magical and the mundane, never losing sight of playful eccentricities and warm, bucolic undertones.
International Dreams is released via Shape Records on 3rd November 2017.
Fall Into Flight
I Hope She Knows
Risograph-printed cover, hand numbered and hand stamped. Black vinyl (regular weight). Super-limited 100 copies only.
UPCOMING LIVE DATES:
14th October – The Tabernacle, Talgarth (Make Noise Wales)
4th November – Spillers Records, Cardiff (album launch)
14th November – The Social, London (Huw Stephens Presents)
6th December – The Lexington, London**
• supporting Thomas Truax
** supporting Sweet Baboo
“With its arcane oddness and warped, subterranean beats, the music of Farm Hand seems very much at ease alone in the dark.” – Gold Flake Paint
“International Dreams” is almost spiritual in its delivery, with drawn out melodies and deep choral harmonies rubbing against bucolic electronics.” – M Magazine
“Music with reverent, almost religious overtones” – Wire
Twitter: https://twitter.com/farmhandle (@farmhandle)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/farmhandle/ (@farmhandle)