Exposé Online banner

N.R. Hills — Strange, Like a Scented Stone
(Celeno CEL NR4, 2002, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2005-09-01

Strange, Like a Scented Stone Cover artThis 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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 32, 2002 releases

Related artist(s): N.R. Hills

Latest news

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

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Long Dead Sevens - The White Waltz & Other Stories – The Long Dead Sevens, an interesting name and an interesting band. Picture if you will, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds covering Leonard Cohen with a dash of Tom Waits thrown in for good measure and you...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover

Byron Metcalf with Steve Roach



Print issues