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Hella

Acoustics

(5RC; US: 12 Sep 2006; UK: 11 Sep 2006)

Another day, another genre. With this 23 minute EP, Sacramento duo Hella may well have spawned math-folk—simply by taking the amplification out of their usual over-driven aural assault and switching to acoustic instruments. If anything, by removing the distraction of power, the move makes their formidable Prog-Metal chops sound even more unnervingly precise, complex, and relentless. At times, these fractured yet closely composed tunes sound like a strange kind of speed-Beefheart—approximating some of Don Van Vliet’s most fiendishly complicated instrumental compositions tackled at a punishing tempo. Throughout the 6 tracks on offer here, Spencer Seim’s guitar veers from Fripp-esque twiddles to a kind of mutoid doom-bluegrass by way of disjointed Les Claypool-style twangs, while Zach Hill attacks the drum kit with vicious brushes, rolling out intense clusters of kick-drum triplets that sound like some weird amalgam of free-jazz and thrash metal. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what Hella is all about.

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