Exposé Online banner

Hillmen — The Whiskey Mountain Sessions Vol. II
(Firepool Records FR009, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-04-06

The Whiskey Mountain Sessions Vol. II Cover art

It’s been about seven years since the first Hillmen release, which was The Whiskey Mountain Sessions, Vol.I. I guess one might suspect that the musicians involved just treat this as a fun sideline, while they earn their bread and butter in their regular bands, other music related endeavors, day jobs, or whatever. One thing for certain, Vol.II ws certainly worth the wait. Hillmen currently is drummer Peter Hillman (of Kiss The Frog), guitarist Lito Magana (Mestizo Beat), keyboardist Gayle Ellet (from Djam Karet and other projects) and bassist Jeff Smith (from Insects vs. Robots), whech represents some changes in guitar and bass since that long-ago first album, but the power of their take on free improvisation still persists, and has in fact improved with age. The opener “The Long Way Home” is in fact an earth-opening twenty minute journey that grooves along with an immense amount of power, continuously evolving as it goes, offering every member plenty of time in the spotlight. I’m not sure how long this version of the band has been together, but the tight and telepathic action they display as musicians together on that first cut is sublimely remarkable over its entire duration. Their pieces are apparently not rehearsed or even partially pre-composed, but just evolve in real time as the band plays, and the entire album came from a single session. There are two additional cuts which are also outstanding: “The Mestizo Insect Frog Jam” takes its name from the regular bands of each of the four members, driving a shuffling guitar based groove all the way across the ten minute mark, with some great Moog soloing by Ellett. The closer “Fire Breather” begins out a sort-of Krautrock meets space-jazz groove giving the whole crew a chanceto shine bright, though as expected it evolves a lot during its nine minutes with Magana throwing out some beautiful leads in this ever-burning inferno, somewhat reminiscent of the young Carlos Santana. Hillmen have certainly topped their first effort, which is no small feat. My only wish is that they would treat us to their creations more often.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Hillmen, Gayle Ellett

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dixie Dregs - Full Circle – After a less-than-spectacular live release a few years back, the Dregs are back with an all new studio release, their first in well over ten years. So what's new with these well known purveyors of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues