N.R. Hills — Strange, Like a Scented Stone
(Celeno CEL NR4, 2002, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2005-09-01This is English musician N. R. Hills’ 4th album by my reckoning, and it seems to be along the same lines as previous releases. He’s a tough cookie to track down and his label has no web site so good luck finding this one. Plus, this is not an easy album to get into at first blush. Hills is a practitioner of electronic ambient music and this CD is basically one large work that’s comprised of many individual musical events that have been edited and cross faded together. The 42-minute experience doesn’t have a thematic arc or binding structure, yet you know you are experiencing music the whole way through. The individual passages remind me of everything from early Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk experiments with analog synth sequences to Philip Glass minimalism to Eno’s ambient experiments. There’s even bits that remind me of Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow and Vangelis. At the other end of the spectrum are non-melodic pieces that sound like Genesis’ “The Waiting Room” or even qualify as musique concrète. Some of the passages exhibit strong melodic content while others are little more than raw tones that have been pushed through myriad synthesizer filters and envelopes. My sense is that by linking these starkly contrasting elements together, Hills is making the point that music exists in many forms, sometimes far beyond conventional notions of timbres or melody. On a certain level it’s all just an academic exercise, but proving the point means a rewarding listening experience.
Related artist(s): N.R. Hills
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more