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

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Quasar Lux Symphoniæ - Abraham - One Act Rock Opera – Quasar Lux Symphoniæ is a new Italian outfit that has made its entrance into the prog world with quite a bang. Abraham is a one act rock opera spanning two CDs, that is almost Wagnerian in its...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues