Half-handed Cloud's Flying Scroll Flight Control presents Dada interior-architectural songs, in the mode of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau, the sound of Robert Rauschenberg's cardboard combines, interrupted by Futurist noise intoner music of collision. They're integrated with the radiant flicker of Stan Brakhage's domestic/personal 1960s art films, the mechanized music of Conlon Nancarrow, Mister Rogers' avant-garde children's operas, and the methods of grunge-era home-taping alchemists Eric's Trip, with scriptures giving voice to the unknown. Particularly encouraged by German Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys' desire to unite spirit and science, Half-handed Cloud's John Ringhofer identifies Flying Scroll Flight Control's arrangements with the most basic building blocks of life, the structures of atoms: mostly empty space and a dense core, around which thinner layers wind - tiny, slippery, whirring, fly-by electrons, perpetually in motion. The lyrics are primarily based on the most ancient, foundational, and audacious of Christian texts (possibly early hymns), quoted in the letters of Paul of Tarsus. The album features a 5-person female choir, manipulated recording tape, fuzz bass, clarinet, some piano, a child's Magnus air organ, rhythmic zipper, trombone, a cushioned stylophone stick, and intermittent backpacker guitar.
Asthmatic Kitty Records presents the fifth Half-handed Cloud full-length album: As Stowaways in Cabinets of Surf, We Live-out in Our Members a Kind of Rebirth, or Stowaways for short. Connected with the lyrical tradition of 19th Century American hymns such as “Shall We Gather at the River?” “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?” and “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing,” these tunes splash about in cavernous spaces opened up by irregularly measured rhythms and pocket-orchestra arrangements integrated with creaky pianos, sound-loops, a tugboat of a church organ, guitars, and billowing banjos.
Half-handed Cloud’s John Ringhofer recorded this album on his half-inch reel-to-reel tape machine in the sanctuary and custodial quarters of a church in Berkeley, California, where he’s lived and worked as a custodian for the past seven years. He played most of the parts himself, joined by friends on cello, clarinet, violin, trumpet, and flute. Brandon Buckner, one-third of Ringhofer’s former band, Wookieback, is behind the drum-kit for the duration of this record. The album was mixed with Daniel Smith (Danielson) at Familyre Studio in Clarksboro, New Jersey.
Cut Me Down & Count My Rings is a collection of rarities, singles, and b-sides by indefatigable DIY pop musician John Ringhofer, AKA Half-handed Cloud. Until now, these songs were only available on vinyl, as a cassingle, with a zine, as a couple limited-edition CDEPs, or among the tracks of a few compilation albums. The themes are accordingly diverse: they include sheep, Psalms, werewolves, list-making, bees, stories from scripture and Christmas. Some of the songs served as transitions between previous Half-handed Cloud releases or built upon themes from the full-lengths. Lending a helping hand on assorted tracks are Brandon Buckner, from Ringhofer's former band Wookieback, Sufjan Stevens, Yoni from WHY?, and Nedelle and Chris from Cryptacize.
Armed with the psalms of David, an acoustic guitar, and the electronic Omnichord, Half-handed Cloud assails nineteen new pop songs outside Eden’s gates on Halos & Lassos, the latest album on Asthmatic Kitty Records. With hints of fitness music and video game soundtracks, Halos & Lassos tromps through 19 songs like a mostly-sunny afternoon in Berkeley, California—home of bandleader John Ringhofer. With the modal purity of Moondog, symphonic elements of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and the ancient art of punning, the album boasts pop melodies arranged around the ambidextrous Omnichord—a vintage 80’s kidney-shaped electronic auto-harp/drum machine/synthesizer.
Many years ago, Sufjan Stevens and Half-handed Cloud's John Ringhofer got together in Dan Smiths (Danielson) parents' basement--not to play tabletennis--but to record five of John's songs, which were about some funny things: medicine and tablets and letters and graves. At first glance, Sufjan thought, oh no! John's really gotten into this rock star lifestyle, LSD, drug use, psychedelic prose poems, motion sickness, hospitalization, etc. Should he be worried? Well, it turns out, he was all wrong. John Ringhofer doesn't even take Aspirin! The kid drinks a gallon of water a day. He does 55 sit-ups. He parts his hair to the side. The songs, it turns out, were about much greater, eternal things. You know, things like Friendship, Kinship, Sons and Fathers, and Broken Promises, and Reconciliation, etc. John does all the great things he does so well--and he wrote and played most of the instruments while Sufjan pressed the record button. Sufjan also plays some drums, some piano, some recorders, some banjo, some guitar. The songs add up to the shortest musical epic in recorded history. An entire mini-series that fits on a 7-inch! This is also the first 7-inch released by Asthmatic Kitty, featuring glorious prints by John Ringhofer, a self-portrait with a bloody gash on hischin. Oh gross, we like it! We like it!
Half-handed Cloud’s third album for Asthmatic Kitty, “Thy is a Word and Feet Need Lamps” delivers an enlightening new collection of signature songs by singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist John Ringhofer. HHC’s first two full-length albums, “Learning About Your Scale (2001)” and “We Haven’t Just Been Told, We Have Been Loved (2002)” left critics struggling to draw comparisons with other artists, but there is really no one quite like HHC. “Thy...” features guitars, cellos, pianos, breathy church organs, woodwinds, brass, non-instrument sounds, an eight-person choir, and various percussion, recorded almost entirely in a church sanctuary. The narrative songs of “Thy is a Wordâ€¦” revisit Bible verses and stories- mostly Old Testament- that you may not have heard in Sunday school. Why recount the murder, mayhem, and sordid situations in The Book? Because as a whole it covers the entire spectrum of life, good and bad. Ringhofer, never didactic in his work, refrains from drawing conclusions, but subtly and cinematically directs listener’s eyes and ears to the space between the words, leaving interpretation up to them
With twenty-five tracks crammed into twenty-four minutes, Scale charmed and amazed reviewers and unaffiliated listeners alike with unexpected instrumentation (trombones, talking books, and an air conditioner) memorable melodies, and a dizzying funhouse vision of The Meaning of Life. With haiku-like clarity and substance, Ringhofer’s concise songs reflect a playful spirit unafraid of following the muse wherever it may lead. Committed but never pedantic, his unique fusion of the silly and serious simultaneously stimulates both reflection and giggles. Once again, Asthmatic Kitty and Soundsfamilyre join together to present a new collection of sonic diamonds by John Ringhofer and friends. We Haven't Just been Told, We Have Been Loved, produced by John Ringhofer and Daniel Smith (The Danielson Famile), offers a new satchel of visionary vignettes, placing a delightful oddball narrative over a fractured soundscape.