HILLS (Master Sleeps) LP/CD
'Master Sleeps' is the second album from Gothenburg's HILLS and also one of the latest offerings from Transubstans Records. Due to the record label it should be clear in what direction we are heading. It goes back to the early 1960's/1970's. But this time the music leads us more in regions where psychedelia and krautrock are at home. In this case, krautrock means Neu!, Can as well as Cluster. 'Master Sleeps' goes into deep psychedelic trance indulging moods that are mostly characterized by some kind of hypnotic repetitiveness. The opener 'Rise Again' rides on an extended mesmerizing groove, but it's overlaid with some fuzzy guitar effects, giving the whole thing a good varied edge. The organ in the background provides the track with a cool 1960s vibe while the vocals play no or at least no major role in that song or, in general, on the album.
'Bring Me Sand' is also based around one steady rhythm, but it's never monotonous. Their way of blending Velvet Underground influenced elements (especially the guitar) into the mix is well thought through. There's a strong Eastern touch, which reinforces the hippie vibe of that track. With the following tune 'Claras Vaggvisa', HILLS start to change the direction. The song sounds more modern, even if the 1960s sounding organ makes sure that the band has no interest in leaving the past. It is also clear that Hawkwind was another influence for this Swedish band. It is especially noticable in 'The Vessel' where they succeeded in combining space rock with 60s psych rock. Once again, a few samples have been integrated but it fits well into the trippy structure of the song.
It is obvious that their music is based on improvisation and I can well imagine that they stretch out some of their songs on stage. Even here, it is possible to sink into this web of sound that unfolds a meditative and ritualistic atmosphere. This is especially apparent in the last track 'Death Shall Come', which starts with some dark vocal chants. It reminds me of 'We Will Fall' from The Stooges, even if the HILLS have integrated more guitar and effects to it. I am also very pleased with the natural organic flow of 'Master Sleeps' and the production is dirty enough to not sound too polished. To sum it up, HILLS is a good new entrant on Transubstans Records. Their hearts are at the right place and they invite the interested psychhead to a cool mind-bending trip that is equally unobtrusive and promising.