White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2017-05-19

It used to be easier to understand what authoritarian rule meant in world political terms. Particularly during the cold war, totalitarianism, fascism and suppression was generally part of our paranoia about communist and one-party regimes. Of course now there are sinister trends in first world politics sharing common attributes, but obliquely applied by the subtle manipulation of world (especially social) media. Under a pretence of benign governance.

White Hills are rallying against such events on Stop Mute Defeat, and in furtherance of their goal to express utter disenchantment at politics closer to home, they've looked back for inspiration to the movements of the past. New York’s The Mudd Club was open between 1978 and 1983, and was an underground venue devoted to the experimental new wave and no-wave artistic genre. Alongside musicians like Lou Reed, David Bowie, Lydia Lunch, and The Cramps were luminaries such as Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs. It was a venue which, musically, was a response to the superficial glitz of Studio 54, but it also harboured at least a pretence of being counter-culture. 

It was Burroughs who was quoted as saying ‘desperation is the raw material of drastic change’ and on Stop Mute Defeat, White Hills have left all their psychedelic musical interests in the past and adopted a quite brutal industrial aesthetic. Their enabler in the audio department is Martin “The Beast” Bisi whose background in the no-wave and hip-hop scenes brings a very stark, anti-utopian sound to the mixing board. Gone are the guitar freak-outs, enter some very discomforting guitar noise which fades in and out. Deconstructed sound clips play against subterranean bass, creating an austere backdrop to some very complex rhythmical phrases. 

There’s no dirty ass rock n roll here for fans of their last album, Walks for Motorists, or long-form psychedelic jams for fans of releases like A Little Bliss Forever. Rather it has more in common with Suicide, Lydia Lunch and Television, and the gnashing vocals more in common with Jaz Coleman or Howard Devoto. Some of the sound affects are also redolent of the early punk era, the fired electronic salvos at the introduction of “Importance 101” reminding of Joy Division, the processed drums rolling in the manner utilised by Peter Gabriel on his third solo album. 

Bleak, fascinating and bloody good.

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