Review Summary: do you want disorder? i don't believe you
The feeling of connection to music is an elusive thing. What makes it so that the same piece of music can have a completely opposite effect on two different people? Why is it that some listeners need only a catchy hook or a beautiful voice to satisfy them while others will gravitate towards abrasive noise and heaviness? That an almost universally revered ‘classic’ record can leave a listener feeling nothing and vice versa? The effect of music on the human spirit is truly an ineffable phenomenon. Dot Hacker’s debut album Inhibition
has had a profound impact on me that I can’t really hope to do justice with my words. It can’t be explained. It’s all about connection on a subconscious level. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to put something into writing.
Formed in California in 2008, Dot Hacker is a band of seasoned session musicians who teamed up to write their own material after playing together for various big name artists. The duo of Josh Klinghoffer and Clint Walsh handle all manner of guitars, keys and synthesisers, backed by the rock solid rhythm section Jonathan Hischke (bass) and Eric Gardner (drums/percussion). Their musical compositions follow no set pattern or formula. They can be intense, dreamy, vicious, danceable, soothing or beautiful, and sometimes all of these things at once.
Those who heard Dot Hacker’s self-titled EP earlier this year will feel right at home as the familiar crunchy riff of ‘Order/Disorder’ roars out of the speakers and Klinghoffer’s angelic voice draws the listener into the wondrous world of Inhibition
. The front half of the record is predominantly guitar-focused, though not in the traditional sense. Klinghoffer’s playing is quite different from the funk/pop/rock style of his day job in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Here he presents something more unorthodox, formed around interlocking textures with Walsh through the use of various effects pedals. This isn’t quite the standard guitar/bass/drums setup either: there is a near omnipresent electronic pulse coursing through the atmosphere, only occasionally coming to the foreground, but always adding another dimension to the aural experience. Every band member is extremely proficient at his chosen instrument(s) and they lock in tightly, playing like a singular living organism led by Klinghoffer’s otherworldly androgynous vocals. There’s an admirable versatility in songwriting here as the band jumps seamlessly from the dreamlike ‘Eye Opener’ into the very danceable duo ‘Discotheque’ and ‘Be Leaving’, in which the booming bass dominates everything else. Hischke is an utterly vital component of Inhibition
, contributing a wall-shaking bassline on almost every track. He has a beautifully fat tone, round yet defined, and an unteachable feel for the groove matched perfectly with Gardner’s powerful drumming.
The near flawless second half of the record sees the band stretching their legs, pushing themselves to further explore the depths of their sound. Dramatic piano playing drives ‘The Earth Beneath’ and ‘The Wit of the Staircase’ into new territory and reaps handsome rewards. Elsewhere, it’s Klinghoffer’s glorious wall of guitars and vocals that take the magnificent title track to another dimension. The best, however, is saved almost for last. The slow opening guitar of the stunning ‘Quotes’ gradually builds to a thunderous climax and a transcendent moment in which the instruments fall away, exposing the raw emotion in Josh’s voice, before kicking back in with unprecedented ferocity. After such a soaring high the chilled out epic ‘Puncture’ is the perfect comedown, showing the band’s restrained side while exuding an air of palpable optimism. Happy to go at its own sedate pace, it pushes the seven minute mark without ever dragging, the feeling of triumph swelling and growing like a wave that never quite breaks. Eventually though, the final notes of ‘Puncture’ fade away, leaving a most peaceful feeling in their wake: truly the ideal way to close an album of such ups and downs.
is a remarkably consistent record devoid of any filler whatsoever. Every single song here has its own identity and something unique to offer while simultaneously building an overarching feeling of flow and cohesion. This makes for an incredibly rewarding listening experience straight from the brains and hearts of four supremely talented musicians who know exactly what they want and exactly how to create it. In the opening verse of ‘Discotheque’, Josh sings ‘that look in your apocalyptic eye… so beautiful, vague and sublime’
, inadvertently summarising the very essence of Inhibition
itself. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes this album resonate so deeply within me. It isn’t the lyrics; half the time it is impossible to decipher what the hell is being sung. It isn’t the riffs or the bass or the beats or any other quantifiable thing. It's the rare sense of wonder and magic this music gives me that is impossible to describe with words but is felt by all of us when we hear our favourite records. I implore anybody who seeks this feeling to give Inhibition
a try. You may not like it, and that’s okay. But, if you open yourself to it, there’s a good chance you will experience the exhilarating feeling of this music flooding your senses and connecting with you in the deepest way possible, and that is something we all deserve. Don’t judge. Don’t analyse. Don’t think. Just feel