At the time of me writing this review, White Hills are only about 2 weeks away from releasing their 8th studio album, "Frying On This Rock". My focus here however is on their previous effort, the 2011 LP "H-p1", which totally caught me off guard the first time I heard it a few weeks ago.
It's not that I've never listened to this variant of drony, trippy Rock before, I am after all an avid Kyuss fan among others, but somehow I wasn't expecting to find something this spacey land on my proverbial doorstep in early 2012...
Some background info: White Hills hail from New York City, Dave Weinberg (aka Dave W.) is the man pulling most of the strings, and this album was recorded in late 2010 in Brooklyn. Now that that's out of the way, what exactly is it that drew my attention to this work?
Well, firstly, this is NOT the kind of record you can easily access on your first listen. At least, I couldn't. For me however I tend to find that the long term benefits from records like these, which require you to actually sit down and listen, far outweigh the short ephemeral blast one gets from easily accessible records.
This was the case here. With H-p1 I feel at time like I've suddenly woken up to find that I'm on some remote planet. Try this: close your eyes, hit play on "Hand in Hand", and see if you can't feel the desolation, the spaciness. I feel like I've heard this before on some sci-fi b-movie's soundtrack. Or if that's all too farfetched and out-of-this-world for you, a closer-to-home analogy for this same track is that it also very aptly depicts what I might be feeling during the morning after the (heavy drinking infused) night before.
The opening track, The Condition of Nothing, sets the tone for the psychedelia that is to follow. Distortion, effects, swirling guitars = a maelstrom of orchestrated noise that takes you with it. All it took was one listen to the opener for me to be curious enough to explore the rest. Track 2, Movement, is an eerie industrial sounding instrumental piece that leads you nicely onto the third track, No Other Way. I enjoyed this one immensely. At just over 10 minutes long you'd be surprised to note that it isn't the longest track on the LP, both Paradise (12:38) and H-p1 (17:12) exceed it. And not only is it long, but its also repetitive. But this is what I love about it. It's hard to explain, I guess I just really love being teleported, and for quality teleportation one definitely needs more than 3-4 minutes for it to work. Well at least that's how it works for me…
Upon Arrival brings us back to more solid Rock ground (pun intended). This is more familiar territory, it could even remind you of the Black Keys if you really wanted to push in that direction. I personally feel the guitars playing straight to my heart.
Someone said that on this album there are "recognisable rock forms present but the way White Hills use them invigorates the listener like no other record [in 2011]". Like I said in the last paragraph, I whole-heatedly agree, but that's not to say that this is a perfect record. For me, the balance between psychedelic spaced out instrumentals versus rock songs is a little off, a little skewed too much toward the former for my liking. In other words, I'd have liked more rrrrrrock please thank you very much. I get your vibe loud and clear, and I like it, a lot in fact, now hit me with your rock!
Let's see if my wish is granted in a couple of weeks when "Frying On This Rock" comes out…
Primary Genre: Rock
Release Date: 21 June 2011
Label: Thrill Jockey
Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: The Warlocks, The Horrors, A Place To Bury Strangers
Album Highlights: The Condition of Nothing,,
"Really, really enjoyed this and i can't wait for the imminent next installment,"