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Killick Hinds & Francesca Remigi — Empowered Kind
(Bandcamp Habitable Records no#, 2022, CD / DL)

Killick Hinds — Imbricate
(Bandcamp no#, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-03-16

Empowered Kind Cover artImbricate Cover art

One of my first encounters with Killick’s music (he went by Erik Hinds at the time) was his amazing 2005 solo h’arpeggione (an acoustic stringed instrument with a range comparable to a cello, with a dozen sympathetic strings) cover of the Slayer album Reign in Blood, although it took a few spins before I realized what I was listening to; the h’arpeggione has such a rich and interesting sound, yet the compositions were strangely familiar. Killick (as he now goes by) has made a career out of mastering all sorts of unusual stringed instruments, some microtonal, some home-made, as well as some conventional instruments and electronics. Based in Athens, Georgia, I’ve heard his music referred to as ‘Appalachian Trance Metal,’ but honestly, it’s far too interesting and varied to pigeonhole that way because he’s constantly experimenting with new ideas (although the Appalachian part is certainly correct).

That’s a good starting point in describing his latest solo album, Imbricate, from December 2021. The opening cut, “Vitrine Passengers,” is played on some kind of fretless instrument with a strong percussive element, either playing it with strong plucking or playing it with sticks, I really have no idea because one can only hear it, not see it, though I can appreciate its strangeness nonetheless. And in many of the album’s cuts there’s an almost subsonic swirling bass sound that rattles a little, adding character to everything it touches. “Conce(r)(p)t Regravel” is another interesting one — it sounds like the same intstrument is used but with some different techniques, augmented by some howling electronic effects and a curious scraping sound that follows the listener through the entire piece. The whistling electronic abstractions that open “Full Apostrophe Livin’” soar with bowed strings over a roadbed of rumbling sounds, like nothing one is likely to have ever heard before. Joining microtonal strings with weird bursts of electronics, “Don't Give It a Second Thought Leader” is perhaps one of the strangest of the album’s nine tracks. In all, Imbricate guides the intrepid explorer through a whole new world of odd sounds, unusual textures and unknown rhythms.

Not all of Killick’s work is solo; in fact much of it is collaborative, such as the the Vectrexcentricity collaboration we reviewed a few years back with bassist Michael Manring and drummer Jamie DeRevere. One glance at his Bandcamp page reveals dozens of other collaborative creations that one can only imagine. Released in late December, 2022, his latest collaboration is with Italian drummer Francesca Remigi, titled Empowered Kind. In addition to her arsenal of drums and percussion (both acoustic and electronic), Remigi also plays Killick’s creation the Symbiote, a resonating tower of strings; of course Killick plays it too, as well as all of his other microtonal stringed miscellany and electronics, the resulting soundscapes often being more busy, crazy and dare I say — jazzy, explorative, and thoroughly mind-expanding. Again, this is music for listeners who strive for sounds that reach well beyond any existing genres. As one hears what’s being expressed across the album’s eleven tracks, the busy cathartic nature of the duo’s real-time compositions offer something abstract, beautiful, and stately in a strange chaotic way, simply like nothing a listener may have heard ever before. With its bowed strings and electronic effects, a track like “Limb Knowledge Gist” drifts in and out of floating ambient territory, while the more muscular “Amphibian Modules” combines delicate string sounds with pounding irregular rhythms and what sounds like heavily processed found sounds and vocals for something absolutely unique; the whirling stirring pandemonium in the closing section is nothing short of cosmic. A couple tracks in the latter half of the program (“Galaxies from an Expanded Perspective” and “Wolf Cub”) are expansive, approaching or breaking the ten minute mark, both very different from one another, and introspective to the point one that one might almost say is noodling, but they do stay in motion and remain interesting over the long haul. Taken as a whole, Empowered Kind is an album that reveals itself slowly over a number of listens, luring the listener into its world.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Hinds (Killick), Francesca Remigi

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