Review Summary: old-school psych done through a modern lens
One of the most recognizable times in modern history was the age of the hippie. The Vietnam war protests, uncontrolled drug usage, free love, and massive concerts like Woodstock are all major cultural milestones that came directly from this moment in history. Yet one of the things that really took off from that era was the birth of one of the greatest musical movements in rock-history: psychedelia. Now it has been half a century since the baby-boomers were, well, making babies, and many things have changed; psychedelic rock being one of those things. But even then, some modern bands have gone out of their way to make psychedelic rock the way Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and many others have made it: through the drug-infused combination of deep reverb, sparkling sitars, and enchanting atmospherics, and one of those bands goes by the name of “Hills”.
Hills is a relatively large Swedish psychedelic krautrock band which incorporates musical styles from across the map. But the most prevalent of those styles, other than the psychedelic rock of the late 60’s-early 70’s, is that of Indian classical folk-music. Sitars, hand cymbals, tabla-drums, harmoniums, and religious chanting come together and breathe life into songs like “National Drone”. Coupled with heavy reverb, they bring about a disorienting, but addictive experience that leaves the listener mentally trapped within the opaque hallucinations brought forth.
In a word, Hills’s latest album Frid
is intoxicating. All 6 tracks are filled with mind-warping melodies that echo about as if they were played in a building made of marble. Multiple layers of instrumentation pile onto one-another create a dense feeling that rarely lets up while Hendrix-esque solos guide the instruments forward into the unknown like a wise leader guiding his men through a dark forest, which comes to life as illuminated by the light of his torch. Melodies morph and twist and blend into one another with every passing second, like a bright pool made up of the colorful blobs from lava-lamps.
In summation, Frid
is perfectly suited to the aging baby-boomer in a need of a nostalgia-fix, while carrying enough diversity to keep it engaging for those less enamored with psychedelia. It has enough variation to keep all the songs fresh, but at the same time never lets go of that old-school psychedelic edge that Hills seemingly went into this project trying to replicate. This balance helps keep Frid
sounding fresh and engaging throughout, placing it in contention for 2015's best psychedelic album.