A girl in sunglasses in a smoke-filled room, singing her heart out with four guys, one of which is a much older American musician: “This is The Invisible Hands,” I was told by an enthusiastic crowd member. While we are rarely surprised walking into a place like Vent, The Invisible Hands struck us with their full energetic sound and their originality.
The Invisible Hands put on their second performance at Vent to an exuberant crowd last Friday. Describing themselves as a psychedelic folk rock group, The Invisible Hands was created by Alan Bishop in the summer of 2011, along with Cherif El Masri, Aya Hemeda, Adham Zidan, and Magued Nagati.
Bishop, who is also known as Alvarius B., was a member of an experimental US rock band called Sun City Girls and co-owner of Sublime Frequencies, a record label based in Seattle, Washington. Bishop is vocalist and bass player for The Invisible Hands and his dark eccentric style adds much to the band’s sound onstage, vocally and visually.
The band’s original name is in Arabic (with the same meaning), and the band sings in both languages. Their music is punctuated with surprising twists, such as suddenly bursting into a Japanese song inspired by a TV commercial. The Invisible Hands have already released a first album with English and Arabic songs, titled Soma, with a second on the way.
Both Cherif El Masry and Aya Hemeda are members of Egyptian pop rock band Eskenderella, but the two bands could not sound more different. A sharp contrast from the popular riffs of Eskenderella, The Invisible Hands shares nothing with the former save for the duo and the accessibility of its music.
Despite straddling two genres that do not get a lot of exposure in Cairo, the band’s songs were immediately accessible and easy to get into, moving between loud and irregular, to slow and folksy, with shifts in vocals between Hemeda and Bishop.
Vent is just the place for The Invisible Hands, with their mix of dissonant psychedelica and Hemeda’s colourful antics on stage. The Invisible Hands is one of the most interesting projects we’ve seen in Cairo, and while occasionally, their vocals would be drowned out by their acoustic arrangements, their music rocked the place for the relatively short amount of time they were on stage.
It may sound like The Invisible Hands is another band that relies on a strange background, onstage antics and shock value, but there is real substance to their catchy tunes.