White Hills – So You Are…So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey)
19 August 2013
Space-rockers, White Hills, release their seventh studio album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates gives his thoughts.
Another new genre to me. Space-rock, or, “psychedelic interstellar rock”, according to White Hills’ record label, Thrill Jockey. I shouldn’t really be surprised, as the label continues to bring exciting and unique aural delights our way. For me they’re up there with Mute and OnUsound for being pioneers and groundbreakers.
So what of the White Hills sound? Well, it’s a strange concoction of grunge, metal and rock which is powerful to say the least, but, it’s interweaved with slabs of electronic noise and effects which, on first listen sound odd to say the least. The second time around (and third, and fourth, repeat infinitum), it all makes sense and it’s a clever little thing to be honest.
The trio of Dave W (guitars), Ego Sensation (bass) and Nick Name (drums) have again been recorded by Sonic Youth/Swans producer Martin Bisi which will probably give you some idea of where their sound is heading. With synthesizers and vocals from W and Sensation, the sound is complete and it’s well worth a listen.
Opener, InWords is a barrage of electronic programming to create a blast of overloaded feedback and techno-screech from the future. A short, but quite menacing introduction before the mantra metal sound of new single In Your Room blasts into your eardrums.
Where the album has its biggest interest is where it changes style so dramatically. After the power-house sound of In Your Room, there’s almost six minutes of drone in The Internal Monologue which is then followed by what their PR info describes as “the post-Hawkwind transmission” of the title track.
The unusual mix of futuristic synths, drone and sometimes prog-rock is a hard one to contemplate, but given the chance, it’s actually quite a sound and that’s where this album succeeds. In true originality, it sticks a two-fingered salute in the direction of music convention. Bravo!
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.