Hills - Alive at Roadburn

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-17

Alive at Roadburn is Gothenburg based Hills' 3rd album for Rocket Recordings. It is made up of four tracks recorded during the band's 2016 set at the Roadburn festival. Rocket are on a hot run at the moment with Gnoomes and Gnod also releasing amazing albums and Alive at Roadburn continues that run.

Over four tracks, all of about 14 minutes in length, Hills set out their stall. Two guitars (one in each ear) and nimble bass and drums. They play exploratory music but always as an ensemble. Their music is reminiscent of live albums from The Byrds and The Velvet Underground - repetition, drones, a slight pushing of the envelope from the guitarists, but never self-indulgent. They also remind me of Abunai! (Ptolemaic Terrascope favourites from the 90s). It's a kind of Psychedelic/Space/Folk-Rock.

The guitars might be in a modal tuning, but I'm not 100% sure. Occasionally, a vocal will join the party but it is predominantly instrumental. In a good way, Hills' sound is quite limited, just the four musicians - who obviously know each others' playing really well - playing simple patterns and occasionally cutting loose with Wah-wah, Delay, Tremolo and Fuzz.

Alive at Roadburn is solid piece of work from a tight but also exploratory band. Their sound, and their understanding of each other work really well in the live environment. I feel that live albums are something of an anachronism these days, but they can still work if the band is right. Hills are the right band.

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