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Hella - Church Gone Wild/Chirpin Hard CD (album) cover



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Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What is Hella? Hella is a guitar/drum duo from Sacramento, California. The musicianship and the technicalities of the two individuals, Zach Hill and Spencer Seim, could stun even the most gifted musicians. But that's not what I'm going to talk about; I'm going to tell you about their most recent studio effort, the double album Church Gone Wild/Chirpin' Hard. This double disc set, with each disc devoted to each member's compositional ideas, and the ideas presented range from wild to completely out there.

The first disc is Zach Hill's piece, simply titled Church Gone Wild, was originally intended to be a single 59 minute song, but he decided to split it into 12 different "movements" so that a person wouldn't have to listen to the entire thing if they didn't want to. Anyway, the music presented here is manic and definitely more varied than the two previous studio efforts by Hella, Hold Your Horse Is, and The Devil Isn't Red. Rather than discuss each individual track, I will describe the piece as a whole. The piece itself is very electronic; almost video game like, with many sampled voices and synthesized bits. The guitar on the track is also very well composed and the drumming is very diverse and technically intricate. Throughout the 59 minutes, there are some very very interesting sections, but there are many sections in which you might get bored. Some of this song is definitely filler, but there is enough quality in the song to make it worth the listen.

Chirpin' Hard is more like a traditional Hella album, only it has more electronic bits in the middle. The guitar is manic, the drums are manic, everything about this piece is manic. The showcase song on the album is the title of the disc itself, the 17:40 piece Chirpin' Hard. The song, though, has many silent spots (and when I mean silent, I mean silent), with many mixed noises that reminds me a bit of Frank Zappa's live experimentations on his albums like Make a Jazz Noise Here. Other than that, though, there are many enjoyable shorter pieces on this disc that should keep the listener listening to the album before switching it for something a little less manic.

While not retaining the power of Hold Your Horse Is, Church Gone Wild is an exceptional foray into some of the most insane music possibly created by two men and shows a breadth of ingenuity. If you like the previous two Hella albums, then this is a natural third choice.

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Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permalink

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