Reviews Zach Hill Astrological Straits

Zach Hill

Astrological Straits

Zach Hill is quite the accomplished drummer. Hill co-founded the genre-bending duo (now a fivesome) Hella with Spencer Seim. In addition, Hill has found time to collaborate with a plethora of talented individuals on multiple projects: Team Sleep with Chino Moreno, Goon Moon with Chris Goss, Omar Rodriquez-Lopez, Mike Patton, and many others. Needless to say, Hill is a known talent. But, for the first time, Hill has ventured out to take the songwriting lead with his debut solo offering, Astrological Straits.

While it is taking the easy way out to compare this album to Hill’s work with Hella, it’s the most obvious comparison to make, so I’m doing it. Musically, Astrological Straits shares a lot of similarities to the early Hella catalog. The frenzied drumming and wacky fills dominate the landscape of this effort. These are partnered with quick time-changes and tweaked guitar sounds, synths, and various effects. The jazz-infused drumming of Hill recalls that of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Chris Pennie, but even more disjointed. Hill has then added in a variety of guitar noodling, synth effects, and other wacky gadgets to create a futuristic sound. Take “Street People,” for example, which is comparable to Battles’ Mirrored.

Then, you have those songs that are just tad on the “normal” side. The latter half of “Dark Arts” brings to mind Queens of the Stone Age-esque jams. “Tick On” is an enjoyable mixture of jazz, piano rock, and of course Hill’s frenzied drumwork - like Miles Davis on acid. And while there are those songs that venture away from the experimental nature, it is these that do occupy the bulk of the album. “Hindsight is Nowhere” is a weird mixture of choir-sung verses, jittery guitars, and synthesized lasers. “Uhuru” is a nearly nine-minute solo affair for Hill as he demonstrates his skills behind the kit as he’s flanked by random noises. The title-track closes the near hour-long affair out with a great display of Hill’s drumming abilities, then again, when is he not showcasing his skills?

Lyrically speaking Astrological Straits is a wash. The words that I can understand are usually just repetition of the title. Either that, or other nonsensical lines that are strung together and make little to no sense, much like The Mars Volta. Obviously these are secondary to the music though, which takes the bulk of the focus from the listener.

Visually, Astrological Straits is on par with the work handled for the many Hella releases. It’s maddened, schizophrenic, avant garde, and pop-art all balled up together - a perfect reflection of the music contained within.

Astrological Straits may seem like an odd adventure in noise rock. But for those familiar with the previous musical ventures of Hill, it really isn’t a far stretch from what he’s been doing for years. Overall, it’s a varied mix of styles, but still, any fan of what Hill has done before should enjoy what he’s put together here.

6.0 / 10Michael
Advertisement
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
Leave a comment

Ipecac

2008

6.0 / 10

6.0 / 10

Share this content
Advertisement
KFAI - Root Of All Evil
Recent reviews

Broadway Calls

Meet Me On The Moon

8.0 / 10 Broadway Calls - Meet Me On The Moon album cover
200 Words Or Less

Meet Me On The Moon is a teaser single for the new LP, Sad In The City, which also happens to be Broadway Calls’ first new full-length in almost a decade (which ...

Mutant Reavers

Monster Punk

6.0 / 10 Mutant Reavers - Monster Punk album cover

Back in the late nineties I started listening to horrropunk. To this day it is one of my favourite scenes. Back in the day I listened to basically everything I ...

Kissed by an Animal

Kissed by an Animal

4.0 / 10 Kissed by an Animal - Kissed by an Animal album cover

Kissed by an Animal is getting the vinyl treatment a year after release of their self title album from 2019. To describe these guys, well it’s hard to nail down ...

x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.