Thing of the Day

Hella! - new album Tripper arrives early

August 24th 2011

Hella - TripperIt just strolls in, fires up, blows everything else away.  Here's the new album from Sacramento avant-progressive duo Hella, delivered early, dropping into many hungry open eager ears.   

Nothing disappoints. Ok, it is, on first listen, a string of similar-but-different peices, an overwhelming, disorienting blur of fascinating noise. Initially similar in terms of intensity, volume and welly; very Spencer Seim-driven, and today guitarist Spencer is in a beefy, heavy, metal/progressive mood.  Like a way more refined Fucking Champs or Orthrelm: Zach Hill and Spencer Seim are back to examining the pure beauty of riffage, the different angles and patterns you can make with the metal guitar/drum framework combination. 

Zach Hill is, of course, one of the most distinctive (the most distinctive?) and certainly expressive drummers in the world; he and Seim have been crafting these ditties together as a duo since 2001-ish, and they were spooky back then, so imagine what this telepathic two are like now.  Could this super-complex seamlessness be any tighter (and yet, as true musicians, not musos, close enough to each other's firing neurons to be able to stretch time, push the pulse back and forth)?  

   Of course, the shifting and changing of time signatures and chunking of melodies and motifs make this your classic example of math rock, but these guys were doing this before the phrase became easy to say without laughing; before it became a style to feel obliged to aspire to.  Hella were and are beyond all that. The rhythmic complexity is second nature, just the colours they paint with.

Spencer Seim and Zach HillThe bulk of Tripper is Hella in classic heavy mode, with Self Checkout and Long Hair big on the joy of driving metal riffage, Spencer getting even more Houses Of The Holy than usual by the end of the latter, and Netgear starting off the same then unexpectedly falling off the world and setting the controls for the heart of the sun. Kid Life Crisis snaps out of the mould with an Upsilon Acrux-style fake CD chopglitch start, rolling into really nice, proggy big tune riffs a la Song From Uncle - a satisfying track.  On The Record is just letting rip and going headlong.  Headless and Yubacore are standout tracks in terms of clear-cut guitar and tunes. Furthest adds a little bit of a bluesier sound to the stew (albeit a nicely awkward, twisty kind of blues that flies off into another universe unexpectedly) and then Zach gets to go full-on turbo on the no-holds-barred Psycho Bro.  Final track Osaka has a dark and stormy flavour to the interveaved melodies that fades out on a great, uncharacteristically toned-down, loping guitar spiral that leaves you wanting more.Hella

So Tripper is full-on, unadulterated Hella, back to the duo instrumental intensity after the interesting (but relatively 'normal') excursion of the five-piece and There's No 666 In Outer Space.  It's maybe missing their (even) more experimental flavours, but Tripper is huge on sheer energy and exhuberance - no-messing Hella: dense, vibrant, sometimes hard to digest, sometimes jaw-dropping, slightly magical under the hood. 

Tripper is out now on Sargent House sargenthouse.com

Download Tripper here: hella.bandcamp.com/album/tripper - (two sample tracks are free/name your price)

facebook.com/Hella

Must-see video for opening track 'Headless'

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