Originally published on July 17, 2011 and updated on February 3, 2012. Moving post forward to highlight their new album Frid.
Hills are among the finest of the neo Krautrock bands one can hear today. They are still active as of August, 2016..
Hills - s/t. 2009 Intergalactic Tactic Records (LP); 2010 Sulatron (Austria CD)
Hills - Master Sleeps. 2011 Intergalactic Tactics Records (LP); 2011 Transubstans (CD); 2013 Rocket Recordings (UK CD; LP)
Hills - Live (EP). 2013 Cardinal Fuzz (UK LP)
Hills - Frid. 2015 Rocket Recordings (UK CD; LP)
Hills - Live At Daemonens Port. 2015 Kommun 2 / Svensk Psych Aften (2 LP)
Regarding the debut, this is one of those cases where I bought the LP (the pink vinyl edition no less), since I didn't figure it would be issued on CD. I probably would have waited otherwise, but what the hey, the LP is pretty cool looking. But owning it on CD with the bonus tracks was necessary too. I may one day part with the vinyl, but not in a hurry to do so. The cover on top is the vinyl edition, whereas the orange cover is the CD. I have not heard either of the live albums to date.
Hills are probably the closest recent band I've heard to conjuring up the spirit of the original Krautrock movement. Mistakes and all. Hills restrain themselves from the endless jam that befell bands like Acid Mothers Temple and, as noted recently, Sulatron's latest signing from Detroit: THTX. Plus Hills reintroduces the flute as an all important ingredient, starting right away on 'Death 1', adding a much needed soft lead instrument to the typical harsh textures that the genre calls for. 'Istiklal Street' reminded me of the Cosmic Jokers, though a slight 2 minute trimming throughout the piece would have helped. 'You Talk The Talk!' is a dead ringer of Kraftwerk's debut (for you kids just startin' out, that would NOT be like the Kraftwerk you are familiar with): The echoed flute, shimmering guitars and pounding metronomic drums are to die for. ' Rainship [Solregn]' is like a psychedelic Neu!. The familiar driving beat but with obvious space rock / psychedelic textures.Bonus track 'Schlaraffenland' made me glad I bought the CD just for this. Similar to tracks 3 and 4, but even more in the vein of Ash Ra Tempel's 'Freak N Roll' from Join Inn. A hypnotic space rock jam. 'Messias' is another bonus coming from a previously released cassette.
Hills have enormous potential. I highly recommend this album as it is. However, I'd like to see them tighten the ship a bit, focus on a little melody and add in some more compositional structure, as they could really put out a monster album here. They have the RIGHT sound.
We spoke of Hills debut last year, and now we'll cover their much anticipated followup album. I felt Hills on their debut showed a lot of promise and that they'd captured the spirit of the original Krautrock movement very well. Master Sleeps shows the band moving more towards the trendy, post-rock motorik side of the house with the familiar steady 4/4 Can/Neu! styled beats. On other tracks you'll hear the "wall-of-sound" fuzz guitar overload ala classic Hawkwind. I'm fond of all these bands, but I was hoping Hills would explore new regions of the genre, or at least walk down the road less traveled. So for me, even though I still recommend Master Sleeps, I do think the album is a bit of a step back. I definitely miss the flute, an instrument that greatly extended their range. Now that they're on Transubstans, I think the band will benefit from the larger exposure and perhaps bring about a bit of validation of effort. We'll see what album #3 brings.
Excellent synopsis here from Scott, who in turn likes this album better.;
Another good review from Aural Innovations.
Frid is the 3rd studio album from this fine space rock / Krautrock band from Sweden. Overall, this is a fairly conservative effort. Meaning... Hills seems all too content to play to genre norms, including motorik styled beats, and fuzz guitar explosions. The band is so rigid in their structure, if would appear they might break in half if they threw in an actual meter shift, or a completely new idea. The beauty of the original Krautrock scene was the escaping of expectation, and blowing minds with exploration. Tonality and color continue to be challenges for the band, as they've never replaced the warmth of the flute from the debut. Sitar is a nice inclusion, though it's unclear who plays what, since the album lacks any kind of documentation.
Despite all these minor gripes, I'm predisposed to liking music such as this, which is probably the only reason I rate it as high as I do. I will submit though, that Frid is a slight improvement on the even more rigid The Master Sleeps. The highlight for me is the ending of 'National Drone' which segues nicely into the superb 'Anukthal is Here'. This is as close as Hills has gotten to their own early 70s native music scene like Algarnas Tradgard and Flasket Brinner. And 'Och Solen Sänkte Sig Röd' won me over on the third straight listen (and 3rd beer). Sometimes it takes that effort...
Last update: August 20, 2016