White Hills – H-p1

January 01, 1970

(Thrill
Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

H-p1 is the kind of album that can
be best appreciated in the vinyl format. Not because the band sounds better
when bursting out of a groove (although that’s true), but because all but the
most bong-addled listeners will probably need time to reflect on these
unrelentless slabs of heavy riffage and industrial space noise. As a double
album, it gives several opportunities.

 

White
Hills start off loud and heavy, capturing their power chords in a visceral
fidelity that would make most stoner bands envious. The vocals in “The
Condition of Nothing” sit on the same sonic level as Dave W.’s guitar but
vocals aren’t really the major factor here. To prove that point, only three of
the nine tracks on H-p1 have lyrics.
Most of the time, the band just beats the hell out of a riff or two. In the
case of “Paradise,” the reduce the focus to one chord, which drones away for 12
minutes while they drip synthesized vacuum noises and oozes all over it. Some
listeners might run screaming but the band’s tenacity is admirable, which keeps
it exciting.

 

Around
Side 3 (aka tracks six through eight) the keyboard noise takes over and the
focus suffers a little. The cross-faded buzz is entertaining but White Hills
sounds best when they’re have an idea of where they’re going, rather than
emulating Throbbing Gristle. Like a few of the previous tunes, the 17-minute
title track begins like an actual song, with a verse and chorus structure,
before it moves into an extended examination of a riff. They can sustain the momentum
although it feels anti-climactic when it fades out into several minutes of
synth buzzes, since the song seemed destined for a crashing grand finale.

 

Supposedly
H-p1 was created as a comment on the
government being co-opted by corporations, with the basic structures
representing “the simplification of complex ideas to keep the masses from
questioning the system,” so says bassist Ego Sensation in the press kit.

 

Whoa,
dude, I just hear the rock.

 

DOWNLOAD: “The Condition of
Nothing,” “Upon Arrival.” MIKE SHANLEY

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