Preview: Mammal Hands debut LP ‘Animalia’ on Gondwana Records


Mammal Hands are the newest signing to Matthew Halsall’s renowned Gondwana Records, and follows two dope recent albums for the label from Matthew (When The World Was One) and GoGo Penguin (v2.0).

Pre-order the CD and digital over at Gondwana’s Bandcamp page, and listen to track previews over at Kudos.

The album’s produced by Matthew Halsall. Find out more info about these guys in the press release below, and catch them on Facebook, Twitter¬† and their own site.


1. Mansions Of Millions Of Years
2. Snow Bough
3. Kandaiki
4. Spinning The Wheel
5. Bustle
6. Inuit Party
7. Street Sweeper
8. Tiny Crumb 


Press release:

Mammal Hands¬†are¬†a trio of like-minded musicians:¬†Nick Smart¬†keyboards,¬†Jesse Barrett¬†drums and tabla, and¬†Jordan Smart¬†saxophones. Drawing on influences from Steve Reich to Bonobo and Pharoah Sanders to Cinematic Orchestra, alongside elements of North Indian and African music, they produce their own beautiful, inimitable music ‚Äď at times wistful and melancholic and others raucous and catchy. They evoke a range of moods, from delicate and subtle to explosive and frantic, blending thoughtful compositions with spontaneity and interplay.¬†¬†On the road they have been wooing audiences from the¬†Norwich Arts Centre¬†to¬†Mostly Jazz¬†Birmingham,¬†King‚Äôs Place¬†London,¬†Band On The Wall¬†Manchester and most recently¬†Love Supreme¬†Glynde. Indeed it was at Mostly Jazz that the band were heard by¬†Gondwana Records¬†recording artists¬†GoGo Penguin‚Äôs¬†bassist¬†Nick Blacka,¬†who liking the band‚Äôs unique sound brought them to the attention of label boss¬†Matthew Halsall,¬†who immediately signed them to the label and has now produced their sublime debut album,¬†Animalia, which is released on 15th¬†September.




Mammal Hands met in April 2012, while busking in Norwich. They gelled quickly, drawn to each other’s open approach to music making. The brothers Nick and Jordan were already playing together as an electronica duo but with drummer Jesse joining the band they developed a distinctive sound drawing on their love of electronic, contemporary classical, world and jazz music. Drummer Jesse’s knowledge and understanding of Indian Classical music brings a unique/distinctive approach to the rhythmic framework of the band’s tunes. His disciplined study with tabla maestro Sirishkumar has allowed him to develop the ability to explore intricate and complex rhythmic patterns and the freedom to explore time signatures and rhythmic patterns less commonly heard in the western world. Jordan brings a love of DJ culture as well as the influence of Pharoah Sanders to his playing whilst pianist Nick brings a knowledge of classical Jazz harmonies but also a deep interest in the minimalist composers (Terry Riley, Steve Reich) which has influenced his compositional approach, striving to create hypnotic, rhythmic patterns that can provide a foundation for Jordan and Jesse to build on. It is this unique combination of influences and their unusual baseless line-up that makes Mammal Hands’ sound so distinctive.



Brilliantly produced by Matthew Halsall and recorded at his home away from home,¬†80 Hertz Studio, in Manchester, and engineered by¬†George Atkins,¬†Animalia¬†opens with the lyrical¬†Mansions Of Million Years, a slow building tune that takes it’s name from Egyptian mythology and draws the listener into the band‚Äôs distinctive sound world.¬†Snow Bough¬†is a short, melancholic, but moving, ambient composition which gives way to the gorgeous, hooky¬†Kandaiki¬†which makes stunning use of looped melodies in different time signatures, creating a wonderful interplay between the parts. Some of the melodies are inspired by Irish folk music as is the down tempo, but anthemic,¬†Spinning the Wheel, which also features drum beats inspired by chopped up electronic drum patterns and hip hop instrumentals. The jaunty¬†Bustle¬†is a frantic, upbeat tune with slower breaks for melodic fragments and hints at the influence of bassist¬†Avishai Cohen‚Äôs hugely influential trio, whereas the delightful¬†Inuit Party¬†moves from a downtempo section through groove to end on a hint of free-jazz and¬†Street Sweeper¬†is inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s orchestral music. Finally the album closes with¬†Tiny Crumb, which explores melodic ideas inspired by Alice Coltrane and Joe Henderson and builds in intensity from a quiet start to a powerful collective improvisation and heavily features Jesse‚Äôs Tabla. It is this mixture of quietness and intensity that gives Mammal Hands their unique flavor and that marks them out as the breakthrough band of 2014.



Agent J aka Jamie Groovement: writer, host, DJ and teacher. @jamiegroovement