Release Date: Apr 7, 2015
Record label: Thrill Jockey
For a band that have cut their teeth over the past decade on relentless guitar riffage and Hawkwindian space rock, Walk For Motorists, the new album from ever-prolific Brooklyn heavy psych outfit White Hills, is surprisingly pared down. That's not to say there aren't moments that will make you question whether some LSD found its way into in your coffee this morning, or that there's a lack of high-flying, wah-heavy guitar acrobatics; they're just more penetrable this time around. In Motorists, White Hills have created a more eclectic, progressive record that eschews some of the thunder of heavy psych and leans toward synth driven neo-Kraut grooves as much as fuzzed-out space rock.
White Hills has never really been part of the crocheted-poncho subset of the psych-rock scene, but the New York duo has also never done anything as downright heavy as Walks for Motorists. Their umpteenth release is a collection of rugged riffs, serrated noise and terrifying, otherworldly vocals. Singer and guitarist Dave W. and bassist/singer Ego Sensation bring a leering ferocity to these nine songs, which are at once hypnotic and thunderous.
'White Hills are proponents of psychedelia as transformation', proclaims the blurb for the prolific band's new album Walks For Motorists. Quite a claim that. I’ve written press releases, and the temptation to collect together a series of ever more hyperbolic adjectives and adverbs is all encompassing. The problem is, they have to mean something.
When New York-based psychedelic camp White Hills emerged in the mid-2000s, they latched onto the same wandering, spaced-out spirit of dark, cosmically drifting guitar-heavy rock famously explored by pioneers like Hawkwind and Amon Düül II. Their trajectory seemed in line with other space-brained rockers of their time, including prolific output in the form of multiple limited-edition releases that would often include lengthy jams that grew more fried and alien-sounding as the band continued. Walks for Motorists represents something of a sea change for White Hills, as the album sees them turning away somewhat from the guitar-centric freakouts of their previous work to songs built more on concentrated, stripped-down grooves.