Zach Hill Shred Earthship (with Mick Barr)

[5RC; 2006]

Styles: mad math, yo; avante garde, experimental, nnnoise
Others: Mindflayer, Cheval De Frise, Voltage, Lightning Bolt

Zach Hill, brought to a medium-sized venue near you care of Goon Moon, The Ladies, Hella, The Smokers (Hill's solo-album band), Team Sleep, Nervous Cop, and many, many more, has been involved in more than a few clunkers of late. (Thank god they offered a Reality TV show to that fuckwit/jagoff Travis Barker and not to Hill! We need him to focus.) The largest determining factor is arranging prowess. It could be argued that the thousand arms of Hill have been exhausted by a few toss-off projects with little time or thought behind them, The Ladies' They Mean Us the most notable exception. Well, that and Shred Earthship, an album that plays out reasonably well even with a lifetime's worth of indulgence fraying its outermost edges.

The Mother of all indie collaborations, Hill and Orthrelm's Mick Barr getting together for a nice taste of fast-forward paradiddle pie is akin to the jazz greats of yesteryear battling it out in musty jazz dens. It's an exciting prospect, albeit one that could easily swerve off the pseudo-rock highway. Things get rocky early on. Guitars quake, frolic, fritter, and ripple over tenacious toms and de-chained snare, and it becomes apparent that early Hella records sound like Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine in comparison. Actually, it's not as if old albums like Hold Your Horse Is are more simplistic and pop-indebted; rather, they were allowed much more room to breathe. We were treated to flying crash grabs, lunging fret flatteners, and songs that repeated their sequences at least once or twice before flaring out in other directions.

Not so here. I've listened to all 19 tracks 17 times waiting for a single break in the action, and it just ain't in the gol' darn cards. The effect can be nauseating when huffed in large doses, but a ten-minute toot and hourly re-visitation do the trick just fine. AND MAN, DO THESE MUTHERFUCKERS SHRED. Only a maniac with continual visions of fluorescent green charts and pie graphs flowing through his or her mind 24/7 could have constructed such a beastly slab of raw earth. Or maybe these guys just wham-bam-thank-you-Sam'd it in a few days. Who knows? Either way, they pulled it off. I could sit and wank-wank about their alarming lack of subtlety and sometimes-discouraging in-joke noodling, but they're probably too busy pressing their next 18 projects to listen to me. Still, it must be said: If these two traded recipes for a few years instead of a few weeks/months, they could easily transcend Shred Earthship and likely humanity itself.

1. Lakes In Space
2. Desert Glass Bubbles
3. Tire Bracelets For Coffin Life
4. Floats
5. North Pyramid Face Off
6. Parallel Patchwork Abduction
7. China Temple
8. Note Swarm, Hive Builders
9. Bellhopper's Tongue
10. Immortal Blood Specks
11. Closed Coffin Curtains
12. Hairgrowth Speed
13. Cat Barrels
14. Relics Of Religiousness
15. Wheatfield Paranoia/Molecular Streams
16. Headdresses In The Day Of Nathan
17. Dark Sea Clouds/Shaking Basket Weaver
18. Undeveloped Piles
19. Nerve Mathematics

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