Mammal Hands are a Norwich based trio comprised of Nick Smart on piano, Jesse Barrett on drums and percussion, and Jordan Smart on saxophones. Three years after Shadow Work, they have announced the release of a new album. Captured Spirits will be out on September 11th via Gondwana Records. “Chaser” is the first excerpt.
The album explores themes including existence and displacement. “The name has multiple readings but was first inspired by something Jordan was reading about past experiences of ancestors being caught and coded into our DNA and having an effect on who you are today. This ties in with themes that we have touched on before relative to identity and the collective unconscious (‘Shadow Work’). It also toys with the idea of feeling contained/trapped and the need to break out of something and also the idea of people being spirits that are “captured” in a body”, says Nick.
All three members of the band contribute equally to the writing process: one that favours the creation of a powerful group dynamic over individual solos. “I think with this record, there was a strong and renewed sense of collective enjoyment and appreciation for the process and each other’s contributions. After a long period of touring and a slow build up to the actual recording sessions we were able to mull over ideas for long periods, build on lessons from the past and pull our playing connection to an even deeper place. Realising each other’s visions for the whole and clearly understanding how they intersect”, says Jesse.
That vision is also realised by longtime collaborator and artist Daniel Halsall who designed the artwork for ‘Captured Spirits’. His strong instinctive feel for the band’s visual world is a key component to understanding the music. “Our work with Dan over such a long period of time now has become integral to the bands aesthetic and he always seems to grasp the themes and ideas that we send for each album and distills them into something striking and engaging that really complements the music. This is really important with instrumental music, as we need to be able to convey our ideas without being too literal or definitive and give the listeners space for imagination and to take their own journey when they listen to the music and look at the artwork”, says Jordan.