I’m gearing myself up for a new White Hills album soon by dipping into some of their past goodies. Well, basically any excuse for listening to space rock with the lights out is a thing to be seized.
White Hills / Farflung is a great heavy 12″, featuring 27:22 of music, a split record from both bands with a scary ass cover* courtesy of Keenan Keller and a record released in, fittingly red, white and black vinyl** and which has never been released digitally, or elsewhere since. It’s a great one too.
First off White Hills ‘To Find The Secret Door’. Clocking in at a mere 14:12 this track really showcases the bands’ atmospheric ambient side, there are snippets of paranoid dialogue featuring slightly crazed American voices discussing the abuse of governmental powers and suchlike. It really works as a quiet triumph, an occasionally sinister groover driven by Ego Sensation’s bass and electronics, with only slight touches of Dave W’s guitar in the mix. There are city sounds and passages where the music is so insubstantial it almost fades entirely from view, leaving you straining to pick up the next note. Okay so I am massively biased but this track really works for me, especially at this length. This track is a close cousin of the track ‘Glitter Glamour Atrocity’ (from the LP of the same name), which has a similar subtext and vibe but rocks the living kerjooblies out of it.
I knew nothing of Farflung when I bought this 12″ but I am fast learning a whole lot more. Their track ‘Fade’ is a hoary, hairy, 13-minute space beastie. No messing around here, they stomp on wearing big space boots, set their Radial Oscillating Capacitor Flux-a-Bastards all the way up to 13, hit the guitar pedals and BANG! It sounds at first like Hawkwind jamming with Marilyn Manson, on the lip of a volcano, in a dungeon, at the climax of a particularly spectacular space battle where the good guys all got lasered. Proper space riffs just like your ma used to bake, hammer over all manner of awesome whooshing space noises^, there are some vocals too and then a great quiet bit before the space rock just blasts off into the ether again. ‘Fade’ sounds the way all my fantasies of seeing the Space Ritual line-up of Hawkwind in their pomp sound like in my head.
I hardly dared to explore any more Farflung in case this was just a total one off. I needn’t have worried, they have an LP called 25,0000 Ft Per Second, that’s all I needed to know. David Catching who I know from Eagles of Death Metal, Earthlings? and Mark Lanegan was one of their guitarists.
White Hills / Farflung was a great little addition to my collection. It can be both expensive and dizzying tracking down all of White Hills’ collaborations CD-Rs and split singles, but this is right up there with the very best of them – and their track isn’t even my favourite one on this record.
PS: The cover appears to be an anatomical dissection-type thing of a strange disfigured creature/android hybrid annotated in Japanese, my son was able to translate chunks of the writing which impressed the hell out of me. Be warned should you purchase that there is a particularly gruesome picture on the insert of an impaled naked lady on fire, which I don’t like at all.
*I was being all street there, it isn’t actually a picture of a scary ass – although that would have been great too. That reminds me, anyone want to join my new hardcore band Asses of Evil? I’m on drums and clarinet, we have vacancies for lead viola and thrash-bastard guitar.
**there was a half-and-half white/red vinyl that looks great but was way too expensive to contemplate by the time I got around to picking up this 2012 release a year later. I can live without it, just.
^I just really, really fucking love whooshy space noises on a song^^.
^^but not quite as much as I love talkie bits in a song.