Jesy Fortino, who records as Tiny Vipers, made most of Hands Across the Void on her own. The record consists of seven songs that can’t be broken down further into many component parts beyond Fortino’s voice and acoustic guitar. Her voice is nothing spectacular, and it can even get gratingly mousy at points. And her guitar playing is simplistic; most songs are built on a pattern of just a few repeated notes.
The songwriting? Good but not great. As a young DIYer, it’s no surprise to find Fortino struggling to find her place. On “Shipwreck,” she declares, “We want to struggle and survive/ We want to live because we know that life is beautiful/ Though surreal at times.” But that gem is followed immediately by the questionable “Swastika,” full of elliptical lines about violence, truth, and religion.
What little else there is besides Fortino on Hands sometimes helps and sometimes hurts. Guitarist Ben Cissner adds great guitar work to two songs. “On This Side” isn’t far from something Radiohead still might do in its more acoustic guitar-leaning moments. And “The Downward” is spruced up by some sharp plucking. What doesn’t work is Fortino’s odd penchant for adding random noise to the background of her songs. Whirs and blips detract from the prettiness of opener “Campfire Resemblance.” And “Forest on Fire” slowly dissolves into a feedback cluster-fuck seemingly discarded from an old Spiritualized album.