Review of White Hills album released through Thrill Jockey
For a band conceived in the 21st Century, New York's White Hills sound so out of sync with all things post-millennial. Combining riffs the size of juggernauts with elongated passages of effects-laden guitar and spaced out keyboards, their sound is more reminiscent of seventies prog experimentalists Hawkwind or Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention than any current artists.
Unsurprisingly, White Hills have been taken to the hearts of the current shoegaze underground, and with their pieces - there's nothing on this self-titled record that constitutes being a "song" as such - also holding loose associations with Spacemen 3 or Loop's more ambivalent excerpts into sonic escapism. Since their first album, 2007's 'Glitter Glamour Atrocity' brought them to the attention of a wider audience, its been an intriguing couple of years in between times, not least characterised by their live shows a year or so previous which were described by many of those in attendance as being among the loudest their ears had ever been subjected to. Here, White Hills don't so much rely on volume, but instead seemingly conduct jams whilst in the studio and record them for posterity. One thing they can never be accused of is doing things by half, and the fact that 'White Hills' seven tracks vary from anything between six and thirteen minutes kind of tells its own story.
Recorded last summer in Oneida's Williamsburg-based studio, 'White Hills' is a colossal exercise in space rock that was mostly recorded in one take bar the odd overdub here and there, and although there's no doubting the sincerity of mainstays Dave W. and Ego Sensation's lofty aims, one gets the impression it was more fun to create than can ever be garnered from listening to it.
That said, opener 'Dead', taken from last year's EP of the same name is a menacing slow burner that recalls Robert Hampson and co. at their most opulent circa 'A Gilded Eternity' while the drawn out textures of 'Let The Right One In' come to life at its saturated mid-point courtesy of an eerie, almost spoken word vocal and Oneida's Kid Millions resolute contributions from behind the drumkit.
While 'White Hills' isn't likely to engage them with a brand new audience, it's a record that should keep those already in throe to their frazzled meanderings reasonably satisfied. For the rest of us, its more a case of persevere at your own pace, otherwise it may end up turning into some kind of aural endurance test.