Boomkat Product Review:
Broken Social Scene's Ariel Engle and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Efrim Manuel Menuck drive folk sounds through kosmische architecture on 'Darling the Dawn', melting homespun vocals into inebriated modular sequences.
Despite being friends for many years, Montreal duo Engle and Menuck have waited until now to work together properly. As ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT, the pair make folk music without acoustic instrumentation (without guitar at all, actually), letting Engle's vocals climb over Menuck's impressive electronic structures. If you've been following Menuck's solo material you'll know he's been working the synth angle for some time, but the addition of Engle opens up a new dimension, warming his electronics with considerable tenderness.
It's not music that sounds as if it's emerged from nowhere; in many ways it echoes the prog rock of the 1970s when bands were so enthused with emerging technology that they attempted to shoehorn synth sounds into anything they were working on. Menuck and Engle's approach is more sensitive and more weathered, but tracks like the imaginatively titled 'We Live On A Fucking Planet And Baby That's The Sun' can't help but lean into proggish ambition, boosted by kinetic drumming from Suuns' Liam O’Neil.
Lengthy droners 'The Sons and Daughters of Poor Eternal' and 'Anchor' are where AH_MH come into their own though. Both tracks attempt to wrongfoot us at first, with thick synth and organ blasts that eventually make space for Engle's confident cries. Gothic and quite spectacular at times, it's music that pulls inspiration from Pentangle and White Magic, pushing freak folk into parallel reality.