Ears Wide Open: Sand

Sand (photo by Alessandra Santucci)

Sand is a hard-rocking trio formed by drummer Dylan Ryan in 2012, when he began writing drum-centric songs on breaks between touring with Cursive and Rainbow Arabia. Enlisting bassist Devin Hoff (Julia Holter, Cibo Matto) and guitarist Tim Young (Reggie Watts’ Late Late Show band), a lot of Sand material was initially instrumental, but Ryan has decided to start singing from behind the kit, too. How he manages to focus on words while keeping up with his own time signature changes and explosive style must involve some kind of next level brain-wiring. So far Sand has put out two releases, “Circa” and “Sky Bleached,” on progressive music label Cuneiform Records, with a new album coming sometime this year.

Their new song, “Haggard Hawk” provides a nice kick in the gut, pulling from free jazz and proto metal but, as monstrous as this jam gets, Ryan’s voice is gentle and calm, like a canoe serenely floating into the flaming pit of the unknown. One might be surprised by the somewhat whimsical subject matter. Ryan says, “It’s mostly about how much I hate phones and always being on them. Then I feel like a lame-o being all whiny about modernity, so I poke fun at that.” As for the title: “The title is just a phrase I thought sounded nice and extremely simple. I guess it could refer to that idea of desperately grasping at a nostalgia that some of us are these days, where anything goes.”

To match this wit, video director Joe Presser applied his motion graphics skills into creating a badass but also measurably absurd visual experience. As Presser describes, “Cel-shaded in highly contrasted 3-D animation, and referencing ’70s B-movie tones, warriors swing skip-its atop four-horned, overgrown wildebeests like something out of the No Fear folders in your five-star binder. A shaman shakes a Polaroid and a Stretch-Armstrong/Barbie effigy in preparation for a ritual reminiscent of a vintage Nickelodeon sliming.”

||| Watch: “Haggard Hawk”

||| Live: Sand open for New Language on March 29 at The Satellite. Tickets.