Saturday, 7 January 2012
Hillmen - The Whiskey Mountain Sessions (Firepool Records)
So, this is just a case of turn up, tune up, and play, is it? Free improvisation, the goal being to make elastic compositions that change over time – that’s how they explain their music in the liner notes, so, who am I to argue? Maybe I’m just an old guy who can hear a little bit of King Crimson in here, along with some Brian Auger / Santana organ, and percussive sounds that rain down like Bill Bruford is playing on 'Roundabout' and 'Close To The Edge'. Well, old guy or not, I can hear these things, and for me they’re all to the great and good. If this is 'improv' then count me in - I love it. Astonishing, circling melodies swirled as they are by pointed guitar phrases, the whirling organ grooves and blasts, the rhythmic drums underpinning it all, and the bass providing the traction as each tune continues to grow.
Four tracks in all, none shorter than eight and a half minutes in length, varying in tempo and melody, and all wonderfully accessible. I'm not sure which drawer you put this music in, as these tunes are part jazz (think E.S.T. but guitar led, rather than piano... that’s as close as I can nail the jazz element here), part post-rock, part progressive, but developed into a complete sound. Despite all this mixing of musical genres, or maybe because of it, this is a clear and vibrant work, and I know that this is an album that I’ll return to repeatedly.