Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Burnt Hills - Morning Glory (Ruby Red Editora CD)

I've spoken much of Albany basement legends Burnt Hills before. Their particular brew of sludge rock always hits it right for me--equal parts Fushitsusha, Parson Sound and Sun Ra--but what we have here is a different matter indeed. Released on the well established Ruby Red Editora label, Morning Glory is, as near as I can tell, the Hills' first official (that is, not cd-r) release, and it more than deserves that honor. This is Burnt Hills at the height of their doped dementia, and it slays.

The opening few minutes might be the most cohesive assemblage I've heard from them, especially being as their improvised stews are actually working within relatively narrow sonic confines. Each jam being different, and one could suggest a further continuation down the righteous path toward sludge rock heaven, it is good to see the band further proving their evolution. The pummeling drums that open it beckon the cries of guitars and bass while the tinkling of xylophone reverberates underneath. It takes nearly five minutes of open ringing chords, like a (at least relatively) better recorded Les Rallizes Denudes Big Band. When the band finally unites in one pummeling action it moves along with a cohesion and fluidity like few of their releases before. It seems an odd adjective but for better or worse the whole group seems to really be swinging here, and you can practically picture their bobbing bodies as the dual drummer tandem of Phil and Mike, along with bassist Eric Hardiman, keep the motion rock steady, heavy as the earth.

Of course, in the grand tradition of Burnt Hills, the whole disc is about an hour long and contains only one jam, making it a kind of presentation of the band in a certain place at a certain time (one Monday night at Jack's I would guess...). What keeps Burnt Hills stuff so good, and so immediate, is the constant honing of approach, a total dedication to its form. One gets the sense that the band never sits down and talks about what they want to do; they simply do it, each member shaping it in its own way so that it grows into its own living breathing creation. Using what seem like all too tried and true methods of rock making--guitar, bass and drums--along with the subtle clanking of the xylophone, the group is in constant seeking of one potential shape of rock to come, a new rock language. And the best part is that the louder you crank it, the more the details reveal themselves, slinking you deeper into the intertwining lines of each member. A big cloud of smoke resides over this one.

Still available from the label I believe, and with great cover art from Sick Llana herself--check out how concerned that kitten looks. Relax dude, the truth is scary.

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