In the era of short contents, even when it comes to sound it is more and more rare to see somebody embark on such a broad, exhaustive project and this attitude, by Felix Laband, got my attention straight off the bat. One hour and ten minutes of intense and diverse music, split into fourteen tracks: this is the entity of ‘The Soft White Hand’, an LP that requires attention to be fully understood but that can also be approached by just picking a random track, therefore plunging into this sonic ‘sea’ half way through. This is something that eases up the listener’s task but is also a good way to get an opinion on this body of work. Personally, I’m not always a believer in the respect of the radical architecture of an album. Sometimes I like to make the whole run trough in one take, sometimes I start from the end an then rewind the tape, and in this case I felt like I could use this approach without fearing of not getting a grasp of Felix’s intentions. I normally don’t pay too much attention to the label’s introduction of the records I try to write about, as it’s my way of not getting influenced by someone else’s words but -in this case- I had to make an exception, being Felix’s work rather dense of a deeper-than-music sense. He, through his usual and very personal meticulous sound research (which often takes shape in the form of the ‘collage’) succeeds in the arduous attempt of reinterpreting some very serious and important historical facts; some of them related to the infamous Apartheid in South Africa and some others concerning the genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot’s Rouge Khmer in Cambodia. The title of the album, indeed, is inspired by the last of the above mentioned events as, like Felix explains, Pol Pot’s army used to identify their prisoner enemies by looking at their hands. The way in which he’s able to convey his message trough some of the most striking music-production techniques I’ve ever tried to analyze is honestly brilliant and everyone, when approaching the listening of this LP, should aim to go for the full 360 experience (getting informations on the creative process behind it and, only after that, deep diving into the listening). I got to specify, at this point, that the most intriguing and fascinating aspect of this work by Labande (backup-ed and put together by the always inspiring Bavarian imprint Compost) is the double-faced façade that it presents: one is epitomized by the intricate but instinctively simple impact of the music he created and the other one is represented by the deeper, not immediate story behind its genesis. These two sides makes it a complete, all-round work which is probably the most interesting and articulated executed the artist so far in his yet long career. Looking at, and listening to ‘The Soft White Hand’ by this ‘awake’ perspective makes everything more fun and allows the listener to finally sit back and enjoy the mere sounds. All the fourteen tracks that compose the album are masterly written and arranged and what comes across -even after a first listening- is how skillfully each one is composed, yet how simply they can be ‘digested’ and this is the sign of a great story-telling talent. Every piece make this LP (out on vinyl, CD and digital versions) such a special puzzle, and everyone can choose which one is their favorite piece: either the opening foley/sound design masterpiece named ‘Dreaming In Johannesburg’, with its deep/dark vocal recordings taken by some 80’s documentaries about the crack epidemic in South Africa- which make it one of the pivotal tracks of the whole work- to the mystic energy of ‘Prelude’, ‘Dreams Of Loneliness’ and ‘Death Of A Migrant’, where the skillfully arranged melodic arpeggios, the found sounds and the harmonic evolution make them three superb modern reinterpretations of symphonic music. The presence of some Deep beats which steer the wheel towards a more rhythmic approach, such as ‘Derek And Me’, ‘Death Of A Pervert’, ‘We Know Major Tom’s A Junkie’ and ‘Go To Sleep Little Baby’, but also ‘5 Seconds Ago’ and ‘7 Rise 7 House’ just give to the album a more defined, tangible shape, whereas ‘They Call Me Shorty’ (my personal favorite) reminds me of some of the most influential and perfect Japanese Ambient records I bought during one of my vinyl shop-crawls in Tokyo, that I won’t disclose for that childish jealousy that permeates every vinyl junkie (: Towards the end, the White Hand takes also a Pop-ish turn with ‘Snug Retreat’ its catchy guitar riff and engaging rhythm section, just to make the whole body of work more complete. ‘The Soft White Hand’ by Felix Labande is a must listen going into the fall of 2022, being it an incredibly stimulating art piece, with a solid and cohesive soul but also with its eclectic twists and turns.