The crowd was swaying, the disco ball was spinning, and eight shaggy-haired performers in flowing garments sang their hearts out and played their instruments with an infectious enthusiasm that made everyone want to let the sunshine in, despite the late hour. And no, we're not talking about a revival of Hair. The Phenomenal Handclap Band brought their funkadelic sermonizing to Santos Party House for the record release party of their self-titled debut.
Despite the shortness of their set, the collective brought together orchestral coordination, all the spirit and technical proficiency of their album and a ton of joyous presence to make everyone in the audience a believer. Looking like they just stepped off the Magic Bus and sounding like the hits of the last fifty years just went through a successful session of "Will it Blend?" the Phenomenal Handclap Band puts on a live show not to be missed. It was almost mesmerizing enough to make us forget the conspicuous absence of handclaps. Perhaps a name change is in order: "The Phenomenal Tambourine Experience"? - Nina Mashurova
The Phenomenal Handclap Band is a tight-knit aggregation of musicians and artists from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the center of it is Daniel Colls, the Witch Doctor, and Sean Marquand, the Medicine Man; who, after years of searching and contemplation, through live performance and the manipulation of recorded music, have finally succeeded in assembling the personification of their holy vision: Patrick Wood, Nicholas Movshon, Luke O'Malley, Laura Marin, Quinn Luke, and Joan Tick, enhanced by the remarkable talents of Aurelio Valle, Carol C, Jaleel Bunton, Bart Davenport, Jon Spencer, and Lady Tigra, among carefully chosen others.
Together they have crafted a sound that is equal parts anthemic, dancefloor-oriented and orchestral, borrowing elements from progressive rock, disco, electro, and psychedelia.
The Phenomenal Handclap Band started when Colls and Marquand, two New York underground club DJs, became restless with the concept of playing other people's music. Both had also been involved in the thriving nightlife scene, and had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of esoteric music ranging from Brazilian soul to vintage psych-rock, so becoming producers seemed to be the next logical step.
After working with a wide range of artists, from veteran soul acts to up-and-coming rock n' rollers, the duo set their sights on The Phenomenal Handclap Band, a supergroup comprised of various luminaries of the indie rock and underground soul scenes. The resulting self-titled debut is the harmonious culmination of numerous diverse musical backgrounds, as well as a testament to Colls' and Marquand's singular musical vision.
The album begins with the meditative strains of the epic "Journey to Serra da Estrela" which erupts into a driving synthesized force, and foreshadows the arrival of "Testimony", in which Jaleel Bunton (TV on the Radio) provides a fiery psychedelic guitar backdrop for Aurelio Valle's (Calla) voodoo incantations. Carol C (S Se) lends her considerable vocal talents to "You'll Disappear", a cosmic disco floor-filler that sets the stage for The Lady Tigra's (L'Trimm) jump-rope rhymes on the soon-to-be classic summer jam, "15 to 20".
Live, The Phenomenal Handclap Band is distilled to an eight-member powerhouse, an eye-popping spectacle that overwhelms the senses. It pulses with a savage rhythm section that provides the ultimate foil for cascading guitars and electrified washes of organ and synthesizers. Their delirious sermonizing whips crowds into a charismatic frenzy. Needless to say, their live shows are more akin to a spiritual church revival than an actual rock show.