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White Hills

H-p1

Thrill Jockey

Sep 05, 2011 White Hills Bookmark and Share


White Hills have honed their mellow-harshing space rock into an effective brain-drill with H-p1, now expertly wielding that Hawkwindian heritage with spitfire fury and a newfound lyrical purpose. The band calls it reactionary— “symbolic of the simplification of complex ideas to keep the masses from questioning the system,” says the band’s Ego Sensation (birth name, no doubt).

So H-p1 gives you the option to grit your teeth and decry the recently downgraded plutocracy, or just put in those shiny new earbuds and submit to the sound: the bashed-out, two-chord drone of “The Condition of Nothing,” the Confusion Is Sex clang and harsh reverberations of “Movement,” the insistent Kraut-drone and screeching-bird synths of “Paradise,” or, if you’ve got 17 minutes to spare, the pentatonic fuzz temple that is the title track.

Recording-wise, H-p1 is all captured with noisy abandon, and notably—explicitly—no compression was used to reign in the peaks and valleys (though surely it got a little dose in mastering), nor fader-riding to account for harsh dynamic changes. One is reminded of Velvet Underground tales of studio volume battles during the recording of “Sister Ray,” each instrument blaring well beyond the red. And that’s just the treatment this music begs for.

White Hills really hit their stride here, and in the process expand and redefine what it is they do: head up the harsh, obstinate end of modern space rock. It’s neither a retro exercise nor some passive soundscape. It demands to be heard, and ears will pay. (whitehillsmusic.tumblr.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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