September 29, 2013

Music Review: Your Hand In Mine from Greece

Not be confused with the popular song of the same name by Explosions in the Sky, Your Hand In Mine (YHIM) is a band of two friends from Thessaloniki, Greece. Manos plays the wurlitzer piano, melodica, toy piano, and ukulele and does the programming, while George plays the synth, mandolin, zither, glockenspiel and electronic percussion.

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Manos and George

Your Hand In Mine's sound is very unique - while not limited to a specific genre, their songs bring to mind french folk music and street musicians with acoustic instruments. When listening to them I feel like I'm at a Parisian cafe reading the papers / being a writer or a poet while having coffee or a glass of wine on a balmy Sunday afternoon. (Actually, maybe I should do that tomorrow in a cute cafe in Sheung Wan.) At other times, it feels as though the songs are taking you on a journey across fields in Europe. It also helps that their videos have really lovely, evocative pictures (thanks YouTube users too!). Check out the pretty, pretty pictures associated with their YouTube videos... which was how I discovered them, by clicking on videos with pretty thumbnails:

Their songs are primarily instrumental, but voices are used sometimes to add to the atmosphere, such as this song:

In 2007, Your Hand In Mine released their self-titled EP containing four songs. Later in the summer of 2007, YHIM were commissioned to compose an original score for Japanese Mikio Naruse's classic 1933 silent film "Every-Night Dreams (Yogoto no yume)". The soundtrack was presented along with the screening of the film at the 48th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (T.I.F.F.). I absolutely love the soundtrack - the songs sound timeless with a strong narrative attached to each of them, and while there seems to be very little Japanese tones in the music, they fit the mood of the film beautifully. 

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In between experimenting with more sounds, YHIM toured with famed French musician Yann Tiersen (of Amélie fame) and English dark folk musician-songwriter Matt Elliott. (Matt's music is in an interesting genre, and I'll cover him later.)

In 2011, YHIM released another album, The Garden Novels. The Garden Novels is evidence that the band had been experimenting with richer sound palettes. Told in a fictional garden, each of the nine songs possess a strong story-like feel. My favourite track was initially "Rosin", the penultimate one, because of its rich sound, but I think I enjoy the last track, "Afterword", the best. Despite being a folksy piece, it contains a gradual build-up of sonic textures, and you almost feel sad to say goodbye to the album.

Speaking of goodbyes, Your Hand In Mine has decided to stop running the band 2 months ago. I first had contact with them towards the end of 2012 when I covered their song "Neighbours", and they somehow found me, and featured me on their Facebook page. I wanted to carry a short interview with them, but received the news from Manos :(.

All the same, I would highly recommend that you check Your Hand In Mine out, and be prepared to be transported to a pretty world. You can find them here:

Images: here, here.

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