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MASTER SLEEPS

Hills

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Swedish band HILLS has been around for 5 years now, and they released their self-titled debut album back in 2009. "Master Sleeps" is their sophomore effort, and was issued by Swedish specialist label Transubstans Records in early spring of 2011.

Those familiar with Transubstans Records will most likely already suspect what's in store when they sign a new band. They specialize in 70's oriented rock of various kinds, with heavy psychedelic and hard prog among their specialities. Hills is a representative for a rather different flavour of music however, one most commonly described as space rock. In this case sporting quite a few heavy psych details one might add.

When that is said, there is a fair bit of variety to the proceedings in this, by modern standards, short production. In the span of less than 40 minutes we're treated to a laidback tune sporting an echoing child's voice beneath a dampened organ motif, the latter reminding quite a lot of the exploits of the late Bo Hansson (Claras Vaggvisa), title track Master Sleeps sports wandering, clean laidback psychedelic guitars as it's main component, while final track Death Shall Come opens with a dark electronic drone and layered vocals, with wandering psychedelic guitar motifs and rhythms added at the halfway point. All of them backed by hypnotic, circulating drum and bass patterns, from slow and subtle to quirky and sophisticated constructions.

And while this trio of improvised psychedelic excursions are compelling experiences, the remaining trio - consisting of Rise Again, Bring Me Sand and The Vessel respectively, are the high points of this disc. Pace-filled, hypnotic circulating rhythms is the backbone of these improvised journeys too, but here they are supplemented with compact, fluctuating droning textures. Which works extremely well to create intense, groove-laden and highly compelling psychedelic pieces of the space rock variety. Songs that take you along into inner and outer space, and in the case of Bring Me Sand with a bit more variation and even some Raga motifs towards the end.

Arguably not the most sophisticated and challenging type of music, but if you generally enjoy improvised music of the psychedelic variety and in particular droning effects and the 70's space rock mood, Hills have produced an album that will have a strong appeal to most space cadets. A highly recommended production, and a strong contender in my list of best albums of 2011.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#492359)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sweden's Hills play a kind of heavy psychedelia that sounds pretty similar at times to the San Francisco outfit Wooden Shjips. However, that is not criticism. With a slightly more progressive edge, Hills brand of cosmic trip-rock proves both innovative and exhilarating, switching between fuzz-toned, retro epics('Rise Again') and more modern-sounding, Eastern-tinged efforts('Bring Me Sand') whilst never losing sight of their powerful psych-drenched mantra. Sometimes 'Master Sleeps' errs towards the heavier side of things, though unlike much of the so-called psychedelic groups of the 21s century, they pointedly eschew the roaring guitars and white noise squalls that can be so distracting. Not unlike finding Dungen's more refined soundscapes crossed with the mesmerizing dronery of New York's White Hills - 'Master Sleeps' is a truly mystical experience filled with trippy sound effects, chiming guitars and ethereal moments of blissed-out calm that nicely compliments the album's harder sections. Unlike many of today's unimaginative psych-rock purveyors, Hills seem to be the real deal. We await their next release with genuine anticipation.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#646663)
Posted Monday, March 05, 2012 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Those with an appetite for hypnotic murmuring and percussion, fuzzy, vast-sounding guitars, and melodic repetition should acquire Hill's Master Sleeps. Staples of the space-rock category are here in abundance.

"Rise Again" The long sweeping flanged guitar creates the "cosmic-wind" through which the percussive music is funneled.

"Bring Me Sand" Although the guitar ventures into the exotic, the determined beat provides a 1980s feel. At any moment I was expecting Kate Bush to open her mouth, and that would have been far more enjoyable than the stream of screeching noise wrestling in the foreground.

"Claras Vaggvisa" Thin organ tweets alongside a dirge of steady bass and drum as distant voices call out.

"The Vessel" Again emphasizing the expansive guitar, "The Vessel" moves with a steady rapidity.

"Master Sleeps" Dipping a toe into the muddy waters of blues rock, the title track features a motif laden with low guitar bends. Much of the piece consists of tonal simplicity, depending on subtle shifts and variations.

"Death Shall Come" Electronic droning and otherworldly chanting leads the listener into an exotic space temple, a sonic ritual marrying the ancient forgotten ways to the technology of tomorrow. Although somber and murky, the piece is more varied than its brethren.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#1269091)
Posted Friday, September 05, 2014 | Review Permalink

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