the best band in the US at present
I tell you, White Hills have to be the best band in the US at present. This is a fabulous release brimful of anger and perdition at the war in Iraq and all things Dubya. That this anger is set over a cosmic soundtrack to rival that genre's greatest exponents does little to decrease its charms. Oh no. From the beautiful opening partnership of Air and Waves and Under Skin or by Name right through to the last (the title) track, this is a very focused piece of work and frankly needs to be heard.
Waves begins like a track off Joy Division's Closer, before morphing into Under Skin or by Name Spirit of Exile which kicks all the gloom into touch with a bruising guitar and drum assault. A west coast guitar solo battles in vain with rolling drums; there is a feeling that High Psychic energy levels are at play here. Spirit of Exile Distance takes the reflective side of Neu! and runs with it for all the song is worth, adding plaintive vocals and a brooding sense of menace far removed from Dinger and Rother's attempts at Zen-like meditation. The track morphs (with the aid of a synth that sounds like a desert wind) into the beautiful Distance Somewhere Along the Way, beautiful until the weird buzzing fly noise comes along and gloriously fucks it up.
Still, Somewhere Along the Way keeps the meditational feel going with a mainly acoustic track supplemented by atonal synths that hint at Cluster's early LPs. By total contrast, Love Serves Remember is a crushing behemoth, blowing away all the previous tracks' reflections as soon as the drums, industrial guitar and the marching sounds appear. Welcome to the atrocity exhibition indeed. Mid-song there's a hiatus and a prayerful song as a plane takes off and bombs drop. Then we have a doctored tape of Dubya which is frankly brilliant in its execution and must be heard. Back comes the industrial noise and the feeling of chaos to wrap things up. Passage is a morose interlude, sounding very much like a groggy take on the double bass sample from the Bunnymen's Broke My Neck.
Finally we have Glitter Glamour Atrocity; a fabulous guitar laden stomp, a true sonic slalom (if you can momentarily suspend disbelief at my alliteration...) Frankly, the squalling guitars and fabulously empathic drumming never lets up for nigh on 13 minutes, not once. A sampled voice urging us all to pay more attention to the world we live on only adds to the tension. It's absolutely brilliant way to end a truly epic LP.
Think big and bold, and check White Hills out. They are worth it.
Words: Richard Foster.