Monday, December 8, 2008

Burnt Hills - Tonite We Ride [Flipped Out]

Here is the latest full hour of power from the Burnt Hills clan. Quick recap on Burnt Hills: an amorphous unit out in Albany, NY who’s membership ranges anywhere from 4-11 people (usually landing on the larger end of the scale) and is responsible for destroying everything in its path on numerous occasions.
Tonite We Ride is about the most badass, fitting title that anyone could give this CD. The line-up on this recording features drums, bass, xylophone and four guitars and altogether sounds pretty monstrous. As alluded to earlier, “Tonite We Ride” is a single, hour long unedited jam. The record eases to a start keeping things relatively loose but maintaining/creating a focus. The rhythmic section holds things together nicely; the drummer knows when to mix things up and when to strictly lay down the beat. Eric Hardiman (also known for his work in Century Plants and as Rambutan) offers some righteously gnarly and hypnotic bass lines while the guitar quartet acts like a unified hovering mass of fuzz. This is the thing that always boggles my mind about Burnt Hills, there are a lot of people playing here and it sounds like a lot of people playing but at the same time it sounds like there’s only a few people playing. Catch my drift? Probably not, I’ll try to phrase it more coherently. Here, these 7 folks play with the same focus/unity that a good trio has. Even with all the frayed wires here there is always a consistency to the jam. It’s interesting too because occasionally the Hills will drop into some long lost rock song where things aren’t even psychedelic anymore just catchy. I really like things around the 18 minute mark, everyone begins to freak out a bit with some nice free drumming and I can even hear Sick Llana hammering the xylophone amidst the feedback. There’s a yelp in the left speaker and everything slows to a devastating lope. After the flayed freak out, an almost militant blues rock riff is introduced and deconstructed. There’s some guitar in here with a vocal-like quality to it, I don’t know if it’s just some precision wah wah playing or what but it sounds choral and awesome. Maybe it’s actually vocals for all I know, but I don’t see it in the liner notes. This is probably the best sounding Burnt Hills release I’ve heard yet; aside from the xylophone getting buried a lot of the time, everything sounds pretty clear so you can hear the nuances of all the players. Probably the next best thing to being in the room during one of their jams. After a sonic pile-up and an extended comeback, everyone reconvenes with a chugging riff which they ride momentarily before whipping up more shitstorms of feedback. I have to complement the drumming once more, cause not only does this guy play the drums like a bastard for an hour straight, the dude is constantly spitting out new rhythms—my favorite one being a nice little rave up about 3/4s through the jam. Getting to the 50 minute marks, the sounds get stretched out and, I’d say, spacey if they weren’t so fiery and immediate. That gives me a good idea for a metaphor. Burnt Hills are the sun. Somehow all the feedback radiation and sonic mass ejections balance each other out, finding a collective stability in aggressive, unstable processes.
This is a pro-pressed CD with sweet, minimal artwork by Bill Nace, which makes me think, when are Nace and the BH gang gonna team up. I have name for it already, Bill Nace and the Burnt Hills Orchestra. Sounds classy, right? Get on it Northeasterners. Still available from Burnt Hills member Jackson Ziamaluch’s Flipped Out label, and worth snapping up if you’re down with the Burnt Hills manner. If yr unfamiliar, this is a great place to start too.

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