Release Date: Jun 20, 2011
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The era of rock music as a driving force in popular culture has passed. However, true rock fans – the “heads,” if you will – have kept the spirit of rock, however cliched such a concept may be, alive. The dedication of countless underground bands, small clubs, boutique record labels and their obsessive collectors, writers, promoters, and general scene-watchers has resulted in the continuation of a thriving contemporary avant rock scene in the US and abroad.
White Hills are a staggeringly loud and exhaustingly prolific jam band. They’ve probably lost track of how many albums they’ve produced in the five or so years they’ve been going, so it’s difficult to approach H-p1 expecting it to be groundbreaking. There are quite a few psychedelic/drone bands like this with similarly colossal outputs – think Acid Mothers Temple (with whom White Hills released a split single), Boris, and Oneida (whose guitarist, Shahin Motia, produced this album, and whose drummer, Kid Millions, guests).
Brooklyn-based psychedelic shredders White Hills have the distinct advantage of playing for an audience that embraces what others might deride as excess. H-p1 is another substantial missive of roiling, evil space-rock from the prolific group, and while it’s easy to criticize the band for fixating on a single riff for several minutes at a time, that complaint also misses the point. The band remains at their most compelling in concert — where the members appear held captive by their own hypnotic sheets of noise — but H-p1 holds up as a well-crafted document in its own right, despite some lulls along the way.
White Hills are a prolific, freewheeling sort of band. The New York space-rock explorers have stamped their name on more than a dozen releases from about half as many labels in the past six years. But they're at their best onstage, where they're loud, exhilarating, and unhinged, playing strings of songs as long as most bands' full sets. Though they're generally that way on record, too, I've never gotten the same feeling from White Hills through my own stereo speakers as I have through some bar's PA.
On their MySpace profile, White Hills describe their music as sounding like “deep space instrumental passages flow[ing] in and out of hypnotic grooves”, which is pretty much the most accurate way to describe the music that this New York duo unleash. On their new self-titled album, guitarist Dave W. and bassist Ego Sensation (yes, really) recruited Oneida’s Kid Millions to play drums on the entire record, which was also recorded at the Ocropolis, Oneida’s studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
New York psychedelic band rages against the machine with noisy assault. Ben Hewitt 2011 In his tome 33 Revolutions Per Minute, Guardian rock critic Dorian Lynskey wondered if he’d written a eulogy for the protest song; whether if, rather than praising a still thriving form, he had merely uttered its burial rights. And indeed, as each week gives birth to some passing new scandal that goes without eliciting some strident artistic response, it’s hard to disagree: Billy Bragg, Manic Street Preachers and other like-minded politicised souls seem like relics of the past.