US-based duo Stage Hands are comprised of multimedia artist / producer Brandon Locher and drummer / producer Gerard Mattis, and this debut self-titled album (though it comes across as more like an EP with six tracks spread across 26 minutes) sees them exploring a path somewhere between eccentric pop and downbeat electronics. Throughout there’s a predominantly bright and optimistic feel to the material collected here. Title track ‘Stage Hands’ opens proceedings with a wash of delicate murmuring piano keys, before brittle programmed rhythms begin to trail all over the mix and Mattis’ live cymbals intersect with the stuttering breakbeats to create disorienting layers of texture beneath the glacial notes.
‘The Populating Of Empty Space’ meanwhile sends things off on a swaggering hip hop-based trajectory as glittering phased vibraphones and noodling analogue keys wander against Mattis’ robust live drum grooves in what’s easily one of the most trip-hop kissed moments here, before ‘Regardless’ conjures up associations with Mouse On Mars’ playfully eccentric electronics as house rhythms roll against jittering colourful synths and darting keys, the fluid live hi-hats injecting a slight sense of jazz shuffle. Finally ”#unabomber’ sees vocal elements making an appearance in an offering that leans far closer to Animal Colletive’s ramshackle folk-electronics as glittering synths wash over clattering live drums, skittering drum machines and languid, wandering analogue synth tones. A worthy, if brief first taste from Stage Hands.