Music Review: White Hills “Frying on this Rock”

by Douglas Cowie on 8 March 2012





White Hills Frying on this Rock Thrill Jockey

A well-intentioned coworker once gave me a book that explained all the reasons rock music was satanic.  According to this tome, the primary features of rock that the devil uses to lure humans into his trap are the heavy beat and the repetitiveness of the music in general, and that beat in particular.

White Hills are Satan’s minions.  “Frying on this Rock” announces its intentions right from the beginning: big guitar sounds, big, heavy drum beat, lots of cymbals, a driving and syncopated bassline.  Whoop!  Scatteredworldspadsoflight!  Big! Fun! Swirling guitars!

But then “Robot Stomp” comes in, with twelve minutes of metronymic pounding in common time.  It grabs your ears and forces you into submission, the robots stomping your brains out with a snare drum on every single two and four of every single measure (and some of the ones and threes), not to mention the pulsing guitars, a zillion other sounds, and some B-movie soundtracking as we hit the last several minutes.  It makes you feel a little strange, a little bit ill, and you might want to turn it off, but it won’t let you tear your weak human mind from its robotic march.  Robot.  Robot.  Robot.  Robot.  Satan.  Satan.  Satan.  Satan.  Stomp on my neck until I’m your slave, my robot overlords.

“Robot Stomp” gives way to the big swaggery blues-metal riff of “You Dream You See,” which shows that White Hills don’t just pound you into submission with incessant right jabs: they’ve got the full arsenal to beat you with.  They swagger, they pound, they beguile, they swirl, they wash your whole damn corpse with wave after wave of guitar.  For a couple minutes of “Song of Everything” the jet fuel runs out and everybody freefloats around in a slow psychedlic vacuum, but those voices phasing across your speakers, and the wind sweeping with them, let you know that the bassline is going to build and build and build and build and—

“Frying on this Rock” has five songs to pound you through forty-five minutes of your life.  It is an album for people who like to be pummeled to death by big noisy space rock.  When the album ends, the silence is deafening.

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mimmo March 13, 2012 at 11:43

stupendi siete fortissimi

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