The word ‘Kintsugi’ means the Japanese art of breakage and repair, with the end result being something greater than the original.
For hAND, a progressive four-piece from Horsham, Sussex, Kintsugi isn’t just the title of their third album, it’s also an ethos to live by.
“Just before we released our second album, our drummer left,” says founding member and vocalist Kat Ward. “So we got a new drummer with a different style, and added a synth player.”
“It was a bit of a problem for us, to be promoting the second album and being down a member,” adds co-founder and guitarist Kieren Johnstone. “So we leveraged the situation, took an opportunity and made something more.”
Dan Thomas joined on drums, and Kieren’s twin brother, synth player Thomas Johnstone, completed the band in 2011. Their third album, released 10 years after hAND’s formation in 2004 as “an electronic duo” is proof of just how far they’ve travelled. It’s a diverse yet well-contained record that Kieren proudly states “ties together quite nicely”.
The record is eclectic, to say the least, displaying Kieren’s devotion to different kinds of guitar music, and Kat’s fanaticism with a certain artist (and former Prog cover star) who recently returned for a slew of reunion shows: “Kate Bush is one of my all-time favourites ever, mainly due to her experimentation. She never sticks to the same thing.”
This album was also an opportunity for the band to pay homage to one of their favourite pastimes: video games. Level One, the album’s opening gambit, received the unlikely publicity of winning the Tokyo Demo Fest. Kieren, a software developer by trade, goes into more detail. “In the early days of piracy, on the Commodore 64 and such, people who would break the copy protection would put together a little graphical intro on their productions to show off their programming skills. Nowadays, this is alive in the form of these competitions, conventions and demo parties. We put the call out to a few demo groups, we teamed up with someone, and they used Level One as the music.”
hAND have certainly come a long way since their days of “wearing out drum machine batteries”, and they seem stronger for it. As for the future, they promise that they’re “ravenously booking gigs”, so we hope to see them live in action soon.
Kat Ward (vocals), **Kieren Johnstone **(guitar), Tom Johnstone (synth),
Dan Thomas (drums)
A diverse, eclectic stew of lightning riffs and gothic overtones, all laced with jabbing synth sounds
Kintsugi is out now via Brutal Elite Records